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Go Bus depot manager Dave Gordon said, from his observations, there was ‘‘not a great difference’’ in compliance since the recent sharp increases of Covid-19 infections in Australia, especially Sydney.
In New Zealand, which is on Alert Level 1, legally everyone travelling on public transport, including drivers, must wear a face covering, although there are some exemptions.
Among those exempt are people with physical or mental health disabilities that make wearing a face covering unsuitable; and those who need to communicate with someone who is deaf or hard of hearing.
Also exempt are children under 12 and pupils on school buses.
Observations by Star reporters showed school-aged children over 12 formed the biggest non-compliant group, with masks the exception rather than the norm.
On a late afternoon Brockville service leaving the Hub recently, of 16 passengers only four (three adults and one teenager) wore masks. Most of the non-compliant passengers were teenage children.
‘‘They think they’re bulletproof,’’ a bus driver said.
But Mr Gordon said he thought it likely that high school pupils did not understand that they needed to wear masks on public buses.
People without face coverings were not stopped from boarding buses and several drivers said they had given up trying to encourage people to wear masks as they were tired of being abused.
One driver said he felt adult compliance was ‘‘not bad’’, although he noted that young women ‘‘in full war paint’’ tended not to wear masks, he suspected for fear of wrecking their make-up.
Taxi and ride-share drivers are required to wear masks and although it is not compulsory for passengers to wear them, the Government’s Fight Against Covid-19 website strongly recommends they do.
In a recent statement, Amanda Kvalsvig, an epidemiologist at the University of Otago's Department of Public Health, said New Zealand had been ‘‘unusually slow to adopt face masks compared with the rest of the world’’.