KUWAIT: Public buses return to the road today after a five-month absence, as transportation companies finished preparations to resume operations while observing health guidelines to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). In this regard, the Kuwait Public Transport Company (KPTC) released guidelines for passengers to be followed in buses operated by all public transportation companies, which include observance of a two-meter-distance between passengers.

According to Osama, an official at the KPTC headquarters in Mirqab who did not want to give his full name as he is not the official spokesperson of the company, the most important point in the guidelines is wearing gloves and masks.

"Since passengers are expected to interact with drivers, they are reminded to wear gloves and facemasks. They also have to observe physical distancing. Passengers without cards or passes will have to pay the fare to drivers, and in order for them to be safe, they need to wear gloves and facemasks so that the virus will not be transmitted to the passengers or the drivers," he said.

KPTC has come up with a slogan 'Together We Can Go Back to Public Transport Safely' that is plastered at its stations and bus stops. Some stickers pasted at the main depot in Mirqab remind passengers on ways to be safe while using public transportation. The stickers also remind passengers that in case they are sick or have high fever, they must not use public transportation and stay at home instead. They also seek the cooperation of all passengers to not underestimate this pandemic.

"Avoiding shaking hands and covering the mouth when coughing and sneezing are just a few reminders to everyone. We all know what to do - this is just to reassure passengers that we are doing our best too," Osama pointed out. Kuwait halted all public transport on March 12. The following weeks witnessed a gradual suspension and closure of services and sectors including taxi services on March 26, until the government decided to impose a full lockdown on May 10. The measures by the government are taken in accordance with WHO protocols and recommendations to stop the spread of the coronavirus.