It is important that taxis are COVID Safe prior to customers using them, as well as to protect the driver of the vehicle – we need to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
Testing is extremely important to help stop transferring the virus to other individuals as COVID-19 is highly infectious. Drivers should get two lateral flow tests per week, even if they show no symptoms. Tests are available at participating Dudley borough pharmacies, community locations, Saltwells Education Centre, and Dudley Leisure Centre.
An agreement has been put in place permitting taxi drivers to go directly to a testing site for a ‘walk in slot’, or a booking can be made online. Tests are usually known within 20 to 30 minutes. The driver should then notify their manager/company of the results.
If a driver, or anyone in their household, comes into contact with Coronavirus or shows symptoms, they must immediately self-isolate for 10 days. They must book an appointment for a local testing site.
Stopping the spread of COVID
To help to stop/reduce the spread of COVID we are asking drivers to routinely follow a few simple steps:
- When passengers are in the taxi, to wear a face covering – if it is safe to do so (e.g. those wearing glasses may find misting occurs, reducing safety whilst driving). The wearing of face coverings for drivers is not mandatory, but it is good practice and would protect both yourself and passengers
- Passengers are required by law to wear a face covering unless they have a valid exemption. Drivers are in their right to refuse their service and will not be prosecuted.
- Think ventilation – open windows and air vents to help bring air into the vehicle as this helps disperse droplets – whenever weather permits and within your customer’s comfort zone. Do not use the car’s re-circulation facility, where possible, as this circulates potentially corrupted air.
- If the vehicle does not have an internal screen, drivers/companies should consider having one stalled. Installation would require the driver/company to check with their test centre and inform their insurance company.
- Hackney Cabs already have a screen installed. Sliding payment slots should be closed. If the payment slot is open – it is suggested it is temporarily covered.
- Drivers have the right to ask passengers to sit in the back of the vehicle on the left-hand side – to aid social distancing. The advice is not to permit people to sit next to drivers on the front passenger seat – unless necessary
- Hygiene is important. The vehicle should be routinely cleaned and kept tidy. Clean surfaces and touch points (steering wheel, seat belt buckles, door handles – inside and out, and window buttons/handles) using cleaning products and anti-viral wipes after each journey. Cleaning products which are BS EN 14476 standard are recommended as they are antiviral and kill up to 99.99% of germs after 5 minutes.
- Use a tissue every time you cough or sneeze and dispose of this safely. If coughing/sneezing is unusual, the driver should consider, whether they should isolate/get a test.
- Wash or sanitise hands after each journey.
- Carry out a risk assessment - GOV.UK has actions for drivers, operators and owners of taxis or private hire vehicles can take to protect against coronavirus.
The government has published new guidance (3 March), providing useful information for taxi companies/drivers:
- Guidance: safety screens for taxis and PHVs
How drivers, vehicle owners and licensing authorities can use safety screens to protect themselves, their workers and passengers from coronavirus
- Vehicle safety standards information sheets
Guidance on the required standards for vehicle safety, construction and use
- Guidance: taxis and PHVs
Actions that drivers, operators and owners of taxis or private hire vehicles (PHVs) can take to protect against coronavirus
Passengers with COVID travelling for emergency purposes
Anyone who has COVID but needs to use a hire vehicle for an emergency reason, are being advised that they should hire a Hackney Cab – but they must inform the company when making the booking.
There must be prior agreement before travel can commence to allow the driver to make an informed decision.
The Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic is proving a difficult time for businesses across the world. In the UK there are financial schemes available for businesses to access as the government has put contingency plans in place in preparation for emergencies.
The Government business support finder webpages include a wealth of information available for businesses and you will find it beneficial to review this material. Support is available to employees and the self-employed, including sole traders and limited company directors. Whether your business is open or closed during this pandemic, you may be eligible for loans, tax relief and/or cash grants.
- There may be financial support under the Test and Trace Support Payment Scheme – if you are already in receipt of welfare support
- Self-employed drivers may be eligible for:
You can also find information about loans, grants and other financial schemes by visiting the Dudley Business First website.
One-off payments administered by the council, of £2,000 are currently (March 2021) being made available to self-employed taxi drivers who have been affected by the pandemic. The taxi grant can be used to cover business costs for self-employed licensed and private hire taxi drivers who live in the borough regardless of which council they are licensed with. Terms and condition apply.
Covid Community Champions
Taxi drivers are in the ideal situation to become voluntary COVID Community Champions, as they get to talk to the public whilst transporting them.
Our COVID Community Champions scheme is being run by the Healthy Communities Team. They are working with lots of people from across the borough to cascade information and help others to make informed decisions, dispel myths and generally know more about what’s happening.