• Video report by ITV News Consumer Editor Chris Choi

People who use public transport should face away from each other when they are unable to maintain a two-metre gap, the government has said.

New guidance issued by the Department for Transport on how to travel safely during the coronavirus outbreak says passengers should keep their distance from other travellers, avoid physical contact, wear a face covering and avoid rush hour if possible.

However it acknowledges “there may be situations where you can’t keep a suitable distance from people”, such as on busier services or at peak times.

The advice states in these cases “you should avoid physical contact, try to face away from other people, and keep the time you spend near others as short as possible.”

Avoid travelling at rush hour where possible. Credit: PA

It goes on: “The risk of infection increases the closer you are to another person with the virus and the amount of time you spend in close contact.”

Passengers are being warned to not touch their faces, stay aware of the surfaces you touch and cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your elbow when coughing or sneezing.

Guidance also includes travelling at off-peak times, avoid the number of changes you make or walk part of the journey.

Guidance for passengers on how to travel safely:

  • Keep two metres apart from others where possible

  • Wear a face covering if you can

  • Use contactless payment where possible

  • Avoid rush hour travel where possible

  • Wash or sanitise your hands as soon as possible before and after travel

  • Follow advice from staff and be considerate to others

Wash your hands after completing a journey on public transport. Credit: PA

Transport operators are being urged to rearrange, remove or limit seating “to try and ensure social distancing is observed”.

This may include blocking off seats in close proximity to others and removing face-to-face seating.

Single users of black cabs and minicabs should sit in the back left-hand seat of cars, according to the guidance.

Train and bus operators have been told to increase the number of services they are running to prevent overcrowding.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has announced a £2bn cycling and walking package. Credit: PA

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced a £2billion package in cycling and walking, including pop up bike lanes with protected space for cycling, wider pavements, safer junctions, and cycle and bus-only corridors.

Passengers are advised to “avoid using public transport where possible” and should “instead try to walk, cycle or drive”.

But people who have no alternative to public transport should be “thinking carefully about the times, routes and ways you travel” and they are advised to wash or sanitise their hands after completing their journey.