Face mask compliance high on public transport as mandatory rules take effect

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The message to mask up seems to have been well received in Wellington and Auckland today, with reports of high compliance across all forms of public transport.

Caucasian woman in a protective mask sits in public transport at a distance of 2 m from other passengers. Protection and prevention covid 19, Coronavirus

Mask wearing has been high in Wellington and Auckland, authorities say. Photo: 123RF

From today, masks are mandatory on public transport and planes across the country for everyone over age 12.

Auckland Transport is reporting that, anecdotally, nine out of 10 Aucklanders are using a face covering on public transport, as are about half of residents out and about.

In Wellington, Metlink workers and police officers were dotted throughout the central train station, handing out masks.

Assistant Police Commissioner Richard Chambers, a box of masks in hand, said he barely had to give any away.

“It’s an impressive effort this morning, certainly here in Wellington. My colleagues in Porirua say the compliance rates are very, very high and in Auckland likewise.”

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“Everyone is doing the right thing and that is fantastic for our country,” he said.

Cam, who's been selling masks made by his wife in Wellington.

Photo: RNZ / Eva Corlett

At this stage, police are treading lightly, including educating people about mask-wearing.

“Under the Act we can issue an instant fine, but I really hope we don’t get to that point,” Chambers said.

That fine could be an instant $300 infringement notice up to $1000 if it goes through the courts. Police have more than 100,000 masks available across 12 districts.

There were a few people making the most of the new rules. Cam and his wife have been sewing and selling reusable masks outside the train station for the past couple of weeks.

“I’ve sold out the last couple of mornings – probably over a hundred each morning,” Cam said.

“All the credit goes to my wife, she has all the talent. I couldn’t use a sewing machine if it fell on me … this is just a pop-up so it’s been a little bit of a bonus for us that masks are mandatory on public transport.”

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