Not all Northland bus users are complying with the rule concerning mask-wearing on public transport with many unaware of the rule.
Ritchies' Northland area manager Tony Manga, who was monitoring Whangārei's Rose St bus depot this morning, said he had found many people weren't aware of the rule which came into force today.
The rule dictated users of public transport must wear a mask, scarf or a similar face covering under alert level 2. This included Whangārei's CityLink bus service as well as the Mid North Link, Hokianga Link, Far North Link and Bream Bay Link.
For total mobility vehicles, which included taxis, Driving Miss Daisy and smaller vans, face coverings were necessary for drivers but not passengers. There were exemptions for people with a disability or physical or mental health condition which made covering their face inappropriate.
The policy also applied to the Fullers GreatSights ferry services in the Bay of Islands and Hokianga for walk-on passengers. Passengers who remained in their vehicle were not required to wear a mask, but were recommended to wear one when interacting with staff.
Social distancing rules still applied. Children under 12 and people on school buses were exempt from wearing a mask.
Manga, who was at the depot to ensure its 12 daily drivers were safe, said he had seen a mix of people with and without face coverings.
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Michael, a bus driver of about two years, echoed Manga's observation but noted he had only completed three runs so far.
"On one of my trips, most of the people did [wear a mask]. Other trips, very few people did," he said.
"Over the day, it'll probably balance out with most of them wearing [masks]."
On Saturday, the Northland Regional Council said it did not expect bus drivers to act as enforcers of the rule. Michael said he hadn't said anything to those not wearing masks.
"I'm a driver, I can't refuse them [entry on the bus] and I can't tell them to wear a mask because I'm not a police [officer]."
Bus driver Milz Panapa, who was well-equipped with a face shield, said bus users had been well-behaved this morning and had asked for a mask when they were informed they needed one.
"They even want to buy one off you or they apologise so that's good," she said.
Bus user Emily Walker-Swan did not have a mask on initially but when she was informed of the rule, she immediately sourced one from Panapa - who had a supply of disposable masks.
Robert Schultz, 78, was wearing a disposable mask as he waited for his bus this morning.
Schultz, who rode the bus about three times a week, was strongly in favour of wearing masks on the bus now that the rule had been introduced.
"When they say, 'everyone has to wear a mask', well you wear the bloody mask," he said.
"It's about keeping yourself safe. It's for your own benefit and anybody around you."
More information about the new rules on face masks on public transport is available online at www.nrc.govt.nz/facemaskFAQs.