Horseman Coaches in coronavirus repatriation

Misleading press reports quashed by operator

Reading-based Horseman Coaches has identified and annulled inaccuracies in press reports about its part in the repatriation of British citizens from China following the coronavirus outbreak. 

The day before the chartered flight took the British citizens from China, Horseman was contacted on behalf of the British Government to assist with the repatriation mission. Five of its coaches from a fleet of 62 were dispatched to transport the individuals to Arrowe Park Hospital in the Wirral.

Despite media reports insinuating the contrary, Horseman Coaches had provided Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for all drivers involved in the repatriation. Military personnel medics and government officials told the operator’s drivers that PPE equipment was not necessary due to the precautions already taken by the Department for Health and Public Health England (PHE). Government officials confirmed that drivers wearing PPE equipment while driving posed a greater risk to the safety of passengers. This was a governmental decision based on a risk assessment conducted by the Department for Health and Public Health England.

Public Health England confirmed that the virus can only be contracted from someone displaying symptoms. Public Health England has confirmed that none of the 83 Britons displayed any symptoms throughout their repatriation.

Horseman Coaches will not be involved in any further repatriation work.

The photographed individual wearing a PPE suit seen in the media was in direct contact with each of the 83 Britons, hence the need to wear protective clothing. The individuals repatriated have not had direct contact with any of Horseman’s drivers, who were kept at the correct distance required during transportation.

PHE has formally confirmed that all vehicles used will remain locked in a secure lock-up for a minimum of 14 days and were subject to a military-grade cleansing process. Horseman communicated to passengers that the PHE has confirmed there will be no risk to any future passengers travelling or using these coaches in the future.

As an additional safety measure, all drivers were released from Arrowe Park Hospital and remain at home for a further 14 days under quarantine conditions, which will be overseen by the Department for Health and Public Health England.

A statement on Horseman’s website said: “We have received suitable guarantees from British Government departments regarding the safety of our continued operation. Rest assured that Horseman Coaches would not have entered into such a contract without the necessary safety guarantees in place.”

Despite PHE confirming all drivers may return to work immediately, Horseman Coaches has asked all drivers to remain at home on full pay and benefits for a further ten days under quarantine conditions as an additional precautionary measure.

To allay concerns, Horseman Coaches wrote to its customers, confirming there is no risk to any of its staff or customers by helping individuals returning from China. It also confirmed there will be no disruption or change to its usual service. The letter also said: “I would also like to inform you that Horseman Coaches will not be involved in any further repatriation work.” 

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