How to stay safe and limit your risk if you have to start commuting again

In Boris Johnson’s latest advice around lockdown restrictions, workers were told to continue to work from home if they can, but those who can’t should return to work from this week, and assured employees that companies are being issued updated guidance to keep staff safe.

So, if you fall into the category of those who can’t work from home – maybe you’re a construction worker, work in manufacturing or farming – you may find yourself heading back to the daily grind this week.

To make matters more complicated, the PM added that public transport should be avoided if at all possible for commuters. Instead, people should drive, cycle or walk to work if they can.

But for thousands – particularly those living in big cities and without the resources to afford a car – this won’t be an option. They will have to return to buses, trains and tubes.

If you are facing a return to commuting this week, there are ways that you can limit your risk of exposure and keep yourself as safe as possible.

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Jana Abelovska, medical advisor at Click Pharmacy, says personal hygiene and maintaining social distance wherever possible are the most effective ways to keep yourself safe in public spaces.

‘Even though the lockdown is slowly relaxing, it is incredibly important that hygiene measures remain in place to stop the spread of infection,’ Jana tells ‘Those returning to work need to remain mindful and wary of their personal space whilst on their daily commute.’

If you’re using public transport

Jana advises buying a face mask to wear as a precautionary measure on your commute.

‘These have been the subject of many disputes, but they may help to keep you safe and protected if you are heading on a bus or tube,’ she says.

‘You should also ensure that you have travel antibacterial wipes, sprays and hand sanitiser on you at all times.

‘Wipe down your phone, oyster card or debit card if you’ve used them to tap onto the tube, and wear gloves where possible.’

She adds that when you get to work, you need you should wash your hands immediately, and throughout the day as frequently as possible.

‘I would also suggest bringing a spare change of clothes which you should change out of once you arrive at the office and once you get home,’ she says. ‘This should help curb any spreading of potential droplets from your clothes to your home or office environment.

‘You may also want to wash your hair every evening after your commute.’  

If you have to get the tube or bus, Jana says the key thing to remember is to be wary of your surroundings at all times.

‘Try your best to keep your distance from others,’ she says. ‘Wear your hair up in a pony tail if you have long hair, and wear a mask if possible.

‘Always have hand sanitiser on you and try to wash your hands regularly, keep fingernails short.’ 

Jana says that if you are travelling by taxi or car, make sure that you don’t have anyone sharing the car with you.

‘Keep wipes on you to wipe down any areas of the car that you think need it, such as steering wheel, hand break and door handle,’ she adds. ‘If you are taking a taxi, keep a window open on your side to allow fresh air to enter the car, wear a mask if possible and ensure to use your hand sanitiser as soon as you exit the car.’

If you’re cycling or walking

Jana says that if it is at all possible, you should try to walk or cycle to work because it is much safer than public transport, and easier to stick to social distancing rules.

‘Plus, we know that the virus doesn’t spread as well out in the open,’ says Jana. ‘If you are cycling, ensure to keep your bike and chain lock properly clean, wipe down the bike with anti-bacterial wipes in the morning before you leave and again once you get home in case it has been exposed to any particles on the ride in or sitting in the bike park.’

Jana says it would be better to keep your bike outside your home – in a garden, balcony or shed if possible.

‘These measures are also especially important if you are using a rented bike to travel, as these will most likely be teaming with bacteria so ensuring you carry travel antibacterial wipes is imperative.

‘I would also suggest wearing gloves to ride.’

When you are riding or walking, keep your distance from other people, says Jana. Try to avoid stopping for too long in built up areas, walking through green spaces is better than walking through built-up areas if you can.

‘Do not walk in a pair, or if you have to, keep the two-metre rule in place,’ she adds.

Always stick to the latest government guidance when you are leaving your home, either for work, essential items or exercise.

The situation is developing and as a result the guidance is changing on a regular basis, so it’s important to make sure you are sticking to the latest rules to help keep yourself and your loved ones safe.

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