Minister can’t fine users who refuse to wear masks

NSW’s Transport Minister Andrew Constance has said it is not in his power to fine or punish users of public transport who refuse to wear a mask.

Mr Constance’s comments come as the Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) threatens to strike for 48 hours from Monday if the state government refuses to act on its concerns about social distancing and a lack of regulation over the use of masks.

Appearing on Today, Mr Constance said all drivers had been issued masks by the government but not even all drivers are wearing them.

“It is important for everyone to know we have provided free mask to see our bus drivers,” Mr Constance said.

“Not all of them are wearing them. We want them to wear them.”

Mr Constance said without a mandate on masks issued by the Chief Medical Officer he cannot fine users.

“We don’t have the health advice to mandate masks. They want us to fine people and deny people services,” Mr Constance said.

“We don’t have the advice from the Chief Medical Officer to mandate them. That’s what mandating means. We are out there telling everyone to put them on and people are starting to do that.”

RTBU Tram and Bus Division Secretary David Babineau said in a statement yesterday drivers felt the government was putting their safety at risk by failing to either put in place or enforce coronavirus restrictions.

“Bus drivers have been fronting up to work every day during this pandemic, despite great personal risk to themselves and their families, to keep our state moving,” Mr Babineau said.

“The Government has consistently failed to provide proper regulations for public transport users. What regulations they have put in place, such as passenger limits, they have failed to enforce.

“Bus drivers have given notice that we cannot in good conscience continue to work in an environment that endangers themselves and the travelling public.”

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