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Time restrictions lifted on bus passes for older and disabled shoppers

PUBLISHED: 15:00 21 March 2020

First bus. Picture: Edward Starr

First bus. Picture: Edward Starr

Edward Starr Photographer

Pensioners and disabled people in Norfolk have had time restrictions lifted on their use of free bus passes to travel around the county due to the outbreak of coronavirus.

The decision to allow unrestricted free travel follows a surge in nationwide panic buying and stockpiling with many supermarkets offering shopping hours reserved for the elderly and vulnerable to ensure they can get essential supplies.

The new rules will see no restriction in place, with people able to use passes at any time of day, and will start from Monday, March 23.

Suffolk County Council announced a similar relaxation of its rules on Thursday.

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The move followed a request from Norfolk County Council to bus operators in Norfolk who have agreed to enable older people to use their passes before 9.30am on weekdays.

The goodwill gesture has been agreed to avoid older people catching coronavirus. It will enable them to travel to shops that have introduced special, early opening times, reducing their risk of catching the virus from larger groups.

Martin Wilby, the county council’s cabinet member responsible for public transport, said: “I am delighted Norfolk’s bus operators have made this generous gesture, which supports our wider efforts to protect older people from coronavirus.”

The current rules, which have been waived, prevent concessionary passes being used before 9.30am, so that older people don’t travel during the rush hour.

Council leader Andrew Proctor said: “We will be doing all we can to support people to get around the county, including lifting the concessionary bus pass time restrictions and working closely with transport providers to ensure the most up to date information is made available.

“I would encourage residents to check the latest updates on our website and the Norfolk Resilience Forum.”

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