The main train operator in Scotland, ScotRail, announced that passengers will not be allowed to consume alcohol on board trains from November 16, 2020 onwards. Alcohol use was previously banned from Scottish railway between 9:00 PM and 10:00 AM.
The new restrictions are aimed at ensuring maintenance of physical distancing and mask use throughout the journey. These would ensure greater safety for staff and passengers and sustainability for the Scottish railway system. The measures are said to be temporary.
The British Transport Police will be assisting in enforcing the restrictions and body cameras will be used by some staff to ensure enforcement.
The RMT rail union has welcomed the decision. The union has been calling for an alcohol ban in Scottish railway for years to ensure staff safety.
RMT welcome this ban on alcohol that will help to keep our staff and passengers safe,” said Mick Hogg, the regional organizer of RMT rail union, as per the Independent UK.Mick Hogg, regional organizer, RMT rail union
LNER which runs trains on the East Coast main line from several Scottish cities to London, has instituted a policy of alcohol-free trains since April 2020. LNER does not sell alcohol on board their trains either.
Reducing alcohol availability during the pandemic is recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO). Apart from ensuring people adhere to protective health measures, alcohol availability limits promote people’s health because alcohol is an immunodepressant and weakens the immune system. It is a risk factor for NCDs, which in turn increase mortality risk from COVID-19. Alcohol policy improvements further prevent and reduce alcohol-related disease and injury thereby alleviating some of the burden on the healthcare system and emergency services which are already at the brink of capacity due to the pandemic.