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Physical distancing seating restrictions lifted on public transport

Published: 15 September 2020

The Government has announced that there is no longer physical distancing restrictions for seating on public transport.

Face coverings are mandatory on public transport, as per the Government’s advice.

Auckland will remain at Alert Level 2 and cabinet will review current restrictions on 21 September.

The Government continues to advise that the general rule for Alert Level 2 is to play it safe. This means that if you are feeling sick you should stay home. Do not go to work or school feeling unwell. Do not socialise, and if you are showing symptoms of COVID-19 you should avoid using public transport when travelling to a medical appointment.

“The relaxation of physical distancing requirements on public transport is good news for Aucklanders and will allow more people to use our trains, buses and ferries to get around the city,” Auckland Mayor Phil Goff says.

“It’s important that everyone continues to wear a face covering on public transport to limit spread of COVID-19. Please also keep track of your movements with the NZ COVID Tracer app and continue good hygiene practices like handwashing and covering coughs or sneezes.”

Following the decision by the Government, Auckland Transport (AT) is reminding customers about rules and guidelines for public transport under Alert Level 2.

Customers may still see physical distancing stickers on public transport over the next few days. Please be patient with operators as they go through the process of removing these stickers. Despite the restrictions being lifted on seating, physical distancing is still recommended where possible.

For most buses, customers must still use the rear door to get on and off the bus and drivers will continue to be separated. This is to help ensure everyone is kept as safe as possible by minimising the physical contact between customers and bus drivers. In some rare cases, boarding will be necessary though the front door on small buses.

Customers who use a wheelchair or other mobility devices, or otherwise require driver assistance, will still be able to use the front door. This also applies to vision-impaired customers. Whenever contact with a customer occurs during these circumstances, we’re asking drivers to use hand sanitiser afterwards.

Physical distancing should still be observed at all of our facilities such as stations, platforms and stops.

We’re ensuring that all public transport is being cleaned regularly and we have enhanced our cleaning regime to include antimicrobial protection fogging of facilities and our fleet.

Face coverings

Face coverings are mandatory on public transport, as per the Government’s advice. AT is pleased to see a high level of face coverings use by customers, sitting at about 95 per cent of people.

It is recommended customers already wearing these face coverings around other people on platforms and at bus stops while waiting and keeping safe physical distance.

Children under the age of 12 are exempt from wearing face coverings. People with a disability or physical or mental health condition that makes covering their face unsuitable do not have to wear face coverings also. There will be other times when it is not required – such as in an emergency, if unsafe, if people need to prove their identity or to communicate with someone who is deaf, or if required by law.

Drivers may remind customers to wear a face covering while on public transport but are not responsible for enforcing the new regulation as some customers will have legitimate exemptions.

QR codes

QR codes continue to be displayed throughout public transport, as per Government requirements.

In addition to the QR codes displayed at the door on buses, there are around 70,000 QR code stickers in production this week that will be placed at individual seats for easy scanning. AT recommends customers scan this QR code with the Ministry of Health’s NZ COVID Tracer app to help with contract tracing efforts if needed.

AT also urges customers to register their AT HOP card to help with contact tracing. This will also allow us to monitor passenger numbers and make fast adjustments to services if required due to changes in demand. We will be working to make those changes as quickly as possible and again advise customers to plan their journey.

If you’ve already registered your AT HOP card, we also ask that you ensure that your contact details are up to date. Those who do not already have an AT HOP card can find a retailer at at.govt.nz/bus-train-ferry/at-hop-card/at-hop-retailers

Discounted off-peak fares

AT encourages Aucklanders to continue considering travelling outside of usual peak hours where possible. This helps reduce peak congestion to make sure everyone can get to where they need to go quickly and safely.

Adult passengers will continue to receive a 30 per cent discount off AT HOP fares while under Alert Level 2 for travel on weekdays after 9am and before 2.30pm, or after 6.30pm.

Tertiary Students with a tertiary concession on their HOP card will also receive a 30 per cent discount off an Adult AT HOP fare (rather than the usual 20 per cent tertiary discount).

This offer excludes the Waiheke ferry service. More details on off-peak fares during Alert Level 2 can be found at at.govt.nz/offpeak

If you’re walking and cycling for essential trips or exercise, make sure you continue to maintain a two-metre distance from people you don’t know. As per Government advice, it is highly recommended that people wear face coverings when out in public to help stop the spread of the virus. For information on cycling and walking, including maps, how to videos and guidance on how to stay safe while walking or cycling, check out our website


The best place to find the latest information about the COVID-19 situation in New Zealand is on the Government’s special COVID-19 website.

Auckland Transport’s COVID-19 page, which includes up to date public transport timetables, is at at.govt.nz/COVID-19

For any other queries the Auckland Transport call centre is available 24 hours / 7 days a week 09 355 3553   

Read more: COVID-19 Transport

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