A 71-YEAR-OLD Type 2 diabetic says he feels there is no difference between “somebody threatening me with a knife” and someone choosing not to wear a mask on public transport, after he received abuse from other travellers.
Chris Churm, of Medstead, was travelling on a Stagecoach bus from Winchester to Four Marks when the first incident occurred.
He said: “A chap got on the bus – he was probably around 50 – wearing his mask under his chin, refusing to put it over his face. I tried to explain to him how wearing the mask over his face was to protect me from him breathing out.
“He wouldn’t have it and he got abusive. I went to the driver who told me he was not allowed to get involved in the policing of it.”
After arriving home Chris phoned to speak with Hampshire police, who told him there was nothing they could do about it, and the responsibility fell with the transport police.
Chris said: “The officer was very apologetic, but said ‘we haven’t got the force just now to do half of what were doing’ thanks to people being on furlough.”
A second incident later occurred on the train from Basingstoke to Winchester, where Chris asked another man to put on his mask – receiving further abuse.
“It’s not rocket science – somebody should do something, but no-one is doing anything,” he said. “As far as I’m concerned, I don’t feel this is a lot different to somebody threatening me with a knife.”
Responding, a Stagecoach spokesperson said: “Ultimately, only police forces have the powers to enforce the new regulations by fining those not wearing face coverings as required.
“We have asked our drivers to remind customers of the regulations and to ‘do the right thing’ but we are also anxious to avoid conflict situations.”