It creates great frustration among the staff in the public transport that they can do nothing against passengers who provoke and refuse to wear face mask.
The requirement for bandages in public transport has been in force since 22 August. But even though the majority of passengers in public transport comply with the rules, there is still a group that refuses to comply with the requirement.
It creates great frustration among train staff and bus drivers who have no option to enforce the rules.
An internal study from the Danish Railway Association shows that as many as 84 percent of train staff have experienced conflict with passengers who do not want to wear face mask on the train.
– We all experience someone who does not comply with this and who does not want to follow the recommendations, and it creates conflicts – but we are just not equipped to take those conflicts. We can only appeal to people to show community spirit, says Mikkel Channo Jessen, who is a joint union representative for the train staff at DSB.
The study was conducted in week 40 and focuses on the mental work environment after the introduction of requirements for face mask among passengers in public transport. It further shows that 70 per cent of train staff believe that the requirement for face mask has increased the level of conflict in trains and that 36 per cent believe that the number of face mask is increasing.
– People have gradually found out that they can just say that they have trouble breathing so they do not have to wear a face mask. And in such situations we withdraw, because we do not want to stand and discuss with people whether they are sick or not, says Mikkel Channo Jessen.
The survey was conducted among 350 random members of the Danish Railway Association, who have been recruited via newsletters and social media.
Mark Toft, union representative in DitoBus Linjetrafik in Præstø, says that it is an image he can recognize, but emphasizes that it is a small group that creates the conflicts.
– I have had contact with my fellow shop stewards here in South Zealand and Møn, and there have been episodes where people have reacted negatively when it is recommended that face mask be used. There have also been a few episodes where the driver has had to call the police so they can take over.
According to Mark Toft, the conflicts do not necessarily result in loud confrontations between the drivers and the passengers. It is more often a provocative behavior where passengers do not do as the driver recommends.
– For example, someone was asked to sit in the back of the bus because he refused to put on a face mask, and then he sat in the very front right behind the driver. It was quite uncomfortable for the driver in question, says Mark Toft.
Want more tools
The big problem for bus drivers and train staff is that they do not have the opportunity to enforce the rules regarding the use of face mask. For example, if people say they can not breathe, then the staff can do nothing.
– There are some who do it in pure provocation. The only time we can do anything is in those situations where people say they do not want to go blindfolded. Then we can call the police and in some cases the person in question has been fined for it, says Mikkel Channo Jessen.
The Danish Railway Association has therefore previously been out and suggested that passengers who, for health reasons, can not wear bandages, receive a form of medical certificate that they can show when they have to use public transport.
– We think that there should be a scheme where you were approved by your doctor, which you could then show via an app or a small card or similar. It must show that you are exempt without saying anything more about the medical cause, says Mikkel Channo Jessen.
According to Mikkel Channo Jessen, this would be a good solution for all parties.
– I have had passengers who have sat with their asthma medicine on the table and shown it to me, to make sure that it is fine that they do not have a face mask on. A medical certificate could do away with that, he says.
Both bus and train staff therefore hope that there will soon be a more effective way of controlling the use of face mask in public transport.
Until then, we can do nothing but recommend. But I know there are some of my colleagues who are really tired of getting a dirty answer, he says.