Government urges people to avoid public transport during coronavirus pandemic

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps leaves Downing Street, London, after a media briefing on coronaviru

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps leaves Downing Street, London, after a media briefing on coronavirus (COVID-19). PA Photo. Picture date: Thursday May 14, 2020. See PA story HEALTH Coronavirus. Photo credit should read: Victoria Jones/PA Wire - Credit: PA

People have a “civic duty” to avoid public transport if at all possible during the coronavirus crisis, according to a government minister.

At the Downing Street press conference, transport secretary Grant Shapps said the lockdown had been used to carry out a range of maintenance projects on the road and rail networks, and set out plans for nearly £2bn of extra spending.

However, he said “bureaucratic bindweed” meant British infrastructure was some of the most expensive and slowest to build in the world.

He said: “If building a new hospital takes just two weeks, why should building a new road still take as long as 20 years?

“If GPs’ surgeries can move online, why are most rail passengers still travelling on cardboard tickets?

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“We must exploit our new-found capacity to respond at pace and apply it to rapidly improving our infrastructure.”

During the same conference Mr Shapps revealed that more than half of the residents of the Isle of Wight, just over 72,000 people, have downloaded the Covid-19 contact tracing app being trialled on the island.

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The NHSX app is part of the government’s test, track and trace strategy, and is central to its efforts in slowing the spread of coronavirus.

The technology is being trialled on the Isle of Wight ahead of a national rollout expected around mid-May.

Earlier this month, Mr Shapps said that around 50pc to 60pc of people will need to use the software for it to be effective.

Mr Shapps added visitors to the UK would be asked to download the app at the country’s border.

He added visitors would also be asked for contact details so the government knows where people are.

The app uses Bluetooth to detect when a person’s phone has been near another owned by someone reporting symptoms of Covid-19, sending a notification to the user and offering them advice on what to do to prevent spreading the disease.

MORE: Calls for ‘clear and safe’ return to tourism after Boris Johnson speech sparks confusionAsked whether the UK government was likely to follow in France’s footsteps and allow holidays to take place in July and August, Mr Shapps said it would depend on whether the infection rate continued to decrease.

He said: “We know that these things can’t come, or we’ve said not before July 4 for phase three.”

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