A surprising number of people were wearing face coverings on Oxford city centre buses yesterday, as new Covid-19 restrictions came into force.

The new restrictions in England, which the Government announced on Saturday, see masks become mandatory once again in shops and on public transport amid concerns about the Omicron variant.

READ MORE: Covid-19: do you agree with the new restrictions?

As well as this, the measures also state:

• People who test positive for the Omicron variant must self-isolate for 10 days, regardless of their vaccination status.

• All international arrivals entering England must take a day 2 PCR test and self-isolate until they receive a negative result.

Those who fail to wear a face covering in these public settings, unless you are exempt, could face a £200 fine.

Everyday, I used buses in the city and yesterday, I was surprised by the number of people who were actually masked up.

I got on the 500 park & ride at around 8:30am from Summertown and the bus was near enough full, as it is most mornings during rush hour.

Of the people on the bus, a good 80 per cent were wearing masks or face coverings of some description.

Later on, I boarded the S1 from Osney Mead, where our office is, to the city centre at about 12:30 pm and although the bus was less busy, the mask take up rate was nearly the same.

Of the 20 people who were on the S1 at that time, around 80 per cent were wearing masks.

I was genuinely quite surprised by these numbers.

As someone who gets between two and four buses a day in the city I feel I have a clear picture of mask wearing on public transport. For the last couple of months the rate of people wearing masks has hovered at around the 50 per cent mark.

The increase in numbers is clearly due to the new rules, rather than people's personal preferences suddenly changing.

READ MORE: COVID: new restrictions put in place amid Omicron variant

In the afternoon, the Oxford Mail spoke with people in the city centre about the new restrictions.

One woman, who was sitting outside the Westgate centre and wished to remain anonymous, told the Oxford Mail has had to wear masks all year at university while in lectures.

She said: “I think I agree, obviously it is a bit annoying to wear in shops and in the cinema.”

However, she was happy to wear her mask if it “will prevent another lockdown”.


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