Communities minister claims he would use crowded public transport to get to work during coronavirus outbreak

PUBLISHED: 16:35 14 May 2020 | UPDATED: 16:43 14 May 2020

Communities minister Robert Jenrick during a media briefing in Downing Street, London; PA Video

Communities minister Robert Jenrick during a media briefing in Downing Street, London; PA Video

PA Wire/PA Images

Communities minister Robert Jenrick said that if he is prepared to hop on a busy bus or train as lockdown eases then so should others.

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Jenrick told BBC Radio Five Live listeners that the government had given “very clear guidance” on how to use public transport during the coronavirus outbreak, urging people to hop on packed buses or trains simply because he would.

“We have given guidance that to protect yourself and others you could choose to wear a face covering.”

He added: “You should be taking precautions like social distancing if you can - I appreciate that isn’t always possible.”

Replying to radio presenter Nicky Campbell’s question over whether he would get on a crowded bus or train, he replied: “Yes, I would do”.

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Labour has been quick to criticise the minister’s advice with shadow communities minister Steve Reed branding it “irresponsible and dangerous”.

“These irresponsible and dangerous comments are typical of the confusing advice the government is giving at what is a critical time in the collective fight against this pandemic.

“For a cabinet minister to suggest full trains and buses are safe places to travel is simply negligent, and risks undoing the hard work we have all contributed to during the lockdown.”

Transport union boss Mick Cash, who runs the RMT, said the comments were “dangerous nonsense”.

“Transport workers have died during this crisis in disproportionate numbers and it is appalling that ministers seem prepared to condemn others to the same fate,” he said.

“It’s one rule for MPs in parliament and another for transport staff and passengers and this union is not having it.”

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