Sadiq Khan leads tributes to five London bus workers who died of coronavirus

5 April 2020, 08:49 | Updated: 5 April 2020, 08:51

Sadiq Khan paid tribute to five bus workers who died
Sadiq Khan paid tribute to five bus workers who died. Picture: PA

By Asher McShane

London Mayor Sadiq Khan today led tributes to five London bus workers who have died after testing positive for Covid-19.

Mr Khan tweeted that he was "absolutely devastated" and that "lives depended" on people following Government rules to stay at home unless travel was essential.

Meanwhile, trade union Unite said the deaths were a "terrible tragedy".

READ MORE: Thousands flock to London parks in defiance of government guidelines

Mr Khan said: "I have been clear that our incredible public transport staff - on the buses, tubes, trams and trains - are critical workers, making a heroic effort to allow our NHS staff to save more lives.

"But we need to play our part too and that means fewer Londoners using the public transport network.

"Please follow the rules. Stay at home and do not use public transport unless it is absolutely unavoidable."

Unite regional secretary Peter Kavanagh said: "Unite will assist the families of our members in every possible way during this terrible time.

Official government advice:

- Stay at home

- Only go outside for food, health reasons or work (but only if you cannot work from home)

- If you go out, stay 2 metres (6ft) away from other people at all times

- Wash your hands as soon as you get home

- Do not meet others, even friends or family.

You can spread the virus even if you don’t have symptoms."Unite has been working continuously with Transport for London (TfL) and the operators to ensure the safety of drivers and others in the industry who are performing a heroic job in getting NHS and care workers to their places of work.

"These measures include deep cleaning of buses, additional cleaning of touch points, the sealing of screens around the driver, the provision of hand sanitiser for all and placing the passenger seating closest to the driver out of bounds.

"I have been in direct contact with the Mayor of London who shares our view that bus drivers must be fully protected.

"My officers are holding daily meetings with TfL, exploring further safety improvements and we are absolutely committed to doing everything in our power to make the driving of buses safe during this unprecedented crisis.

"We are also calling on the Government to make provisions for transport workers in terms of personal protective equipment."

Gareth Powell, TfL's managing director for surface transport, said: "We have been extremely saddened to hear of the recent passing of our colleagues in the bus industry. Our thoughts are with their families and friends and we have been offering the bus companies for whom they worked every support possible.

"The safety of our staff and customers is our absolute priority and we have been working closely with the bus companies, the mayor and Unite to implement a range of changes and improvements to keep the bus network and garages safe for those operating and using it, in accordance with Public Health England advice.

"Our clear message to Londoners is simple - the transport network is only for critical workers who need to make absolutely essential journeys. Please, everyone else, stay at home, don't travel and save lives."

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