Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Coronavirus: Isle of Wight hovercraft stops amid passenger face mask row

Solent Flyer hovercraft
Image caption Hovertravel said it has banned both customers and cancelled their travel cards

The captain of a hovercraft was forced to suspend a crossing because two passengers refused to wear face masks.

Police were called as the service from Southsea to Ryde on the Isle of Wight was halted when the pair became "verbally abusive", Hovertravel said.

The firm has banned them and cancelled their travel cards for breaching its abusive behaviour policy, on the 17:30 BST service on Friday.

Anyone travelling on public transport in England must wear a face covering.

Hampshire Constabulary said officers spoke to the pair when they arrived in Ryde, after the crossing resumed.

The argument was apparently about one of the passengers wearing a mask which had a broken strap, a police spokeswoman said.

No formal complaint was made and officers noted the passengers were no longer allowed to use the service.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption People with certain health conditions, disabled people and children under the age of 11 are exempt from the rule

Under the rule, which came into force on 15 June, passengers without a covering will be asked to wear one, or face being refused onboard or fined £100.

Hovertravel said: "Staff have engaged with these customers on a number of previous occasions, explaining the reasons why, and encouraging the use of face coverings.

"The captain stopped the hovercraft during the crossing to re-iterate the regulations but was forced to escalate the process by involving the police to enforce compliance.

"The customers became verbally abusive and so Hovertravel followed its zero tolerance policy to any abusive behaviour by cancelling both customers' travel cards."

People with certain health conditions, disabled people and children under the age of 11 are exempt from the rule.

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Media captionThe masks should be made of cotton, and even an old pair of socks can be used to cover your face

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