Covid-19: The mask-wearing mystery about beer and coffee on public transport

The Ministry of Health has rejected to provide an expert opinion on a law that allows passengers on public transportation to remove their face masks and consume beer, wine, and coffee purchased on boats.

Even though one document suggested it opposed the law permitting mask removal for recreational drinks, the Ministry has refused Stuff’s demands for a clear explanation since February.

All public transportation services are required to wear masks under the Covid-19 standards. They do, however, include exceptions, such as the drinking of regular on-the-go drinks.

In February, erroneous enforcement on Auckland’s ferry services, as well as concerns about drinkers wearing no masks, erupted, with one local lawmaker stating vulnerable passengers were “terrified.”

The regulations apply to domestic aircraft and long-distance train services as well, but the friction between disguised and unmasked passengers was most noticeable on commuter ferry rides, which are often less than 30 minutes long.

Stuff sought feedback and papers from the Ministry outlining the reasoning for the exemption on short commuter trips, especially mentioning Auckland’s ferries, while the country was on alert level 1 in February.

“For the purpose of this request, urban public transportation services have been defined as any bus, rail, or aircraft service inside urban areas,” the Ministry said. Ferries were not mentioned.

It did find one document, which was kept by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and was accessible via an internet connection on March 19.

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