Frequent passengers of the capital area bus system (Strætó) may have noticed that not everyone takes masking up seriously on the bus. Some passengers take their masks off after boarding, and some even enter the bus mask-free.
Vísir spoke with one frequent bus passenger, Sigrún Oddsdóttir, who expressed the frustration that many mask-wearing bus passengers feel: “One bus is not a large space, and there’s three people who don’t have a mask on, sitting near other passengers.” She said that when she complained to Strætó that drivers were not enforcing the mask rule, she was told that it is not the drivers’ responsibility.
The rules on Strætó’s website clearly state “all passengers must wear a mask if they are not able to to ensure a two-meter social distance on board Strætó buses in the capital area and the countryside”, with some exceptions, but also state, “Strætó strongly recommends wearing a mask when traveling by public transport.”
Vísir contacted Strætó spokesperson Guðmundur Heiðar Helgason on the matter, who told reporters that their interpretation of the pandemic rules laid out by Minister of Health is that masks are the responsibility of passengers; not drivers.
“We’ve tried it both ways,” he said. “We’ve tried to have a total mask requirement, where drivers have denied people entry if they’re not wearing a mask, and then we’ve tried this. There are often moments, outside of rush hours and on certain routes, where there is more than enough room. We don’t want to deny people access, because we’re just that kind of company and we’re often the only transportation option for people and don’t want to deny people access, but rather follow the rules as they are stated, instead of taking things further and instituting a total mask requirement.”
Deciding to interpret the rules in this way was also done to prevent confrontations between drivers and passengers.
“We at least look at it this way, that it isn’t possible for the drivers to supervise this,” Guðmundur said. “Sometimes people board the bus and maybe take their masks off. We’ve been good about this, in the pandemic. We know what needs to be done.” He noted that drivers can remind people to wear a mask, but that they do not believe it is within a driver’s work description to enforce masking.
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