Sajid Javid on why MPs don't need face masks in Commons
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An unidentified man in his 40s was travelling back to the UK after a work trip abroad. The train manager accused him of wearing “the wrong kind of mask”. Following a heated conversation between the passenger and the staff member, French cops intervened – prompting an emergency stop in Lille, France, to haul him off.
It happened shortly after departure from Paris Gare du Nord, at 1.13pm French time on Thursday.
The man, believed to be from Liverpool, said: “I’ve done nothing wrong and respect all coronavirus rules – this is absolutely outrageous.”
At one point, after the rift with the female Eurostar employee, the businessman replaced his black mask with a blue surgical one that another passenger gave him. Even though he apologised, the drama did not end there.
The train manager confirmed she had reported him for wearing the “wrong type of mask” for preventing the spread of COVID-19.
Due to arrive at London St Pancras at 2.39pm UK time, the train instead had to make an unscheduled stop in Lille, where the man was taken into custody – delaying the trip for about 15 minutes. This led to complaints from other passengers, who expected to make it from Paris to London in just under two and a half hours.
“Why is Eurostar stopping its trains, and delaying hundreds of passengers, because of a petty dispute over one man’s mask?” asked one.
One of the Lille police officers, when asked why the man had been forced off the train, said he could confirm he had been arrested but didn’t know the reason: “We’ll have to find out.”
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A Eurostar spokeswoman said: “Unfortunately, a passenger on board a service from Paris to the UK on Thursday repeatedly removed his mask both in the station and on board, despite gentle reminders from staff.”
“During the journey, the passenger became aggressive and intimidating towards the on-board team, when they politely reminded him to wear a mask as is required under our conditions of carriage.
“Eurostar teams have a responsibility to ensure the safety of all of those on board, and this kind of behaviour towards our staff cannot be tolerated.
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“As a result, the passenger was asked to leave the train at Lille station and in this situation, it is normal procedure for the police to attend and assist.”
She added that Eurostar rules “clearly” state that face-covering against the spread of the coronavirus must be worn at all times, with failure to comply resulting in passengers being refused to travel.
The man insisted not to understand what was going on: “I have absolutely no idea what this is all about, except that a Eurostar staff member has taken a very strong dislike to me, and accused me of not wearing the right type of mask.
“Now I’m going to be left alone in France.
“This is very cruel treatment. We should all be getting on, not treating each other like this.”
One passenger told the Evening Standard: “He was actually being very reasonable.
“Everybody else was on his side, but he was marched off and we didn’t see him again.”
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