Taxi and private hire drivers have been handed fresh Government guidance on how to work under the new local restriction tiers set to be introduced next week.
The new guidance also details how people can travel between tiers and UK nations for the purposes of meeting their ‘Christmas Bubble’.
The Department for Transport, who released the updated details, also said that travellers should note that transport routes may be busier than normal. Those travelling should plan their journeys, check for disruption before they leave and avoid making unnecessary stops during the journey.
National restrictions currently apply in England. However, from 2 December a system of local restriction tiers will apply to passengers in England. The DFT are advising passengers wishing to use a taxi to check the local restriction tiers that apply in the areas they will pass through.
Hull Taxis and private hire vehicles providing services through or within these areas should continue operating services as normal. To help control the spread of the virus drivers are being urged to remind passengers of the rules on social contact but do not have to refuse to carry them.
These restrictions apply only to England. There are different restrictions in the other UK nations:
- Northern Ireland
During the immediate Christmas period some social contact restrictions will be different between 23 and 27 December.
Passengers may travel to meet people in their ‘Christmas Bubble’ and return home between 23 and 27 December. People travelling to or from Northern Ireland may also travel on 22 and 28 December.
Cabbies Must Carry Out a COVID-19 Risk Assessment
As a self-employed driver of a vehicle each cab driver must conduct a risk assessment to understand the risks and what they can do about them. The drivers should think about how they work and ways they can protect themselves and their passengers.
As a driver they do not have to write anything down about their risk assessment.
Picking Up Passengers
Before a passenger enters the taxi, the cab driver should ask if the passengers have:
- coronavirus symptoms – a fever, new cough or loss of smell or taste
- had a positive coronavirus test in the last 10 days.
The driver should refuse service if they have.
The driver should wash or sanitise their hands if they come into contact with a passenger or their luggage. The taxi driver should do this before and after contact.
The cab driver must continue to provide support to disabled passengers to safely enter and exit their vehicle. The driver must also continue to assist disabled passengers with their luggage and mobility equipment.
Taxi drivers are allowed to show passengers their face while socially distancing so that they can identify them as their driver.
People must stay at home and avoid travel, unless for work, education or other legally permitted reasons. If travelling away from home under a legally permitted reason, passengers can only travel with someone they live with (social contact), or with someone they have formed a support bubble with, unless they are travelling as part of an activity that is exempt.
To help control the spread of the virus cabbies are urged to remind passengers of the rule, but cab drivers do not have to refuse to carry them.
In The Vehicle
Passengers must wear a face covering in a taxi or PHV, unless they are exempt. Taxi drivers are allowed to refuse to take a passenger if they are not wearing a face covering and they are not exempt. Passengers do not have to provide proof that they are exempt.
Taxi drivers do not have to wear a face covering, but the DfT recommend that they do if it does not affect your ability to drive safely. Their licensing authority or operator may ask cab drivers to wear a face covering. Cabbies should follow their guidance if it does not affect their ability to drive safely.
Taxi drivers are allowed to remove their face covering in order to communicate with passengers who are deaf or hard of hearing.
Drivers should ask passengers to sit as far away from them as possible or put a mark where they would like them to sit. Where possible passengers should not sit in the front of the vehicle.
Open windows when carrying passengers and/or use the car’s vents to bring in fresh air from outside. Drivers should not use the recirculated air option for the car’s ventilation system when carrying passengers.
End of Journey – Leaving The Vehicle
- take contactless payment if you can.
- if not, drivers should wash their hands with soap and water or sanitiser after handling money.
- taxi drivers should remind passengers to wash or sanitise their hands after the journey.
Preparing the Taxi for the Next Passenger
The DfT are reminding drivers that COVID is carried in the air by tiny droplets. Larger droplets can land on surfaces they touch. Smaller droplets (called aerosols), can stay in the air for at least 5 minutes and often much longer if there is no ventilation.
Between every journey licensed taxi drivers should:
- clean those parts of their vehicle that they or passengers may have touched, for example door handles, payment devices, protective screens, buttons, seats
- open doors / windows to ventilate the car for 5 minutes
- wash their hands for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser.
If you have coronavirus symptoms or have been told to self-isolate
Taxi drivers should not work if they have coronavirus symptoms or have been told to self-isolate. If they have coronavirus symptoms they should get a test as soon as possible. The drivers should stay at home until they get the result.
Financial Help for Drivers
If the cab driver is told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace, they may be entitled to a payment of £500 from their local council under the Test and Trace Support Payment scheme.
Self-employed drivers may also be eligible for:
- the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme
- the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan scheme
- a coronavirus Bounce Back loan.
If the cabbie is clinically extremely vulnerable and has received a formal shielding notification, they may also be entitled to either Statutory Sick Pay or Employment Support Allowance.