© South Ribble Borough Council 2019

 

Coronavirus guidance for taxi drivers

Please see further guidance issued by The Department For Transport on 13th May 2020 to Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle providers and Licensing Authorities here

Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice for taxi and private hire licensees

Following the advice of NHS England and Public Health England, South Ribble Borough Council is providing the following guidance to taxi and private hire vehicle drivers in the borough to help prevent potential transmission of Coronavirus should it become more prevalent in the country.

Drivers are encouraged to:

  • Always carry tissues and use them to catch coughs and sneezes
  • Dispose of used tissues in the bin as soon as possible
  • Wash hands with soap and water, or use sanitiser gel, to kill germs
  • Clean surfaces regularly with sanitising wipes or spray to get rid of germs

The information can be viewed in the following YouTube video:

We advise all licensees, including taxi and private hire drivers, to follow these simple and sensible steps at all times and particularly in the wake of the outbreak of Coronavirus.

We would also encourage licensees to take sensible and routine precautionary measures such a cleaning surfaces regularly with sanitising wipes or spray to get rid of germs. As ever, Taxi drivers should consider regularly cleaning card payment devices. Licensees who share a taxi or private hire vehicle should consider regularly cleaning the steering wheel and instruments.

Public Health England is the lead agency and is providing regularly updated information for the public on the outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in China, including the current situation in the UK and information about the virus and its symptoms.

You can access the most up-to-date information in the link below. 

If you are worried about the Coronavirus (COVID-19), have a cough, temperature or shortness of breath and have been in physical contact with someone from an affected area then the NHS advises you to:

  • Stay indoors and avoid contact with other people as you would with the flu
  • Call NHS 111

We would expect all private hire operators to fully cooperate with any enquiries they may receive from Public Health England or any other relevant agencies.

Whilst the above advice is current at the time of writing, please regularly check the Public Health England website and Government / NHS websites for updated information:

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

Wearing of Face Coverings by Taxi Drivers/ Passengers in Taxis

The Secretary of State for Transport’s announcement that from 15th June face coverings will be required while using public transport in England does not cover taxis and private hire vehicles as the trade are already able to require (with limited exemptions) passengers to wear these. Taxi drivers are already able to refuse carriage to passengers where it is reasonable to do so, this might include those that are able but refuse to wear a face covering. Private hire vehicle operators can make the wearing of face-covering a condition of hiring.

In simple terms, this means that passengers or drivers of licensed vehicles don't need to wear face coverings. However, a private hire operator is within their rights to require any passenger booking a journey to wear a face covering and for service to be refused if the passenger refuses to wear a covering. Hackney Carriage drivers are not permitted to refuse hire without reasonable excuse. In the current circumstances, South Ribble Borough Council would consider a failure of a passenger to wear a face-covering when requested by the driver to be a reasonable excuse, provided the passenger was able to do so. Should a driver refuse a passenger due to the above circumstances, the operator must be informed, so a record may be kept, and any complaints can be effectively investigated.

Hygiene and safety advice for taxi drivers

•Avoid cash payments and take card payments, where possible.

•You should have disposable tissues with you to catch coughs and sneezes.

•You should wash your hands before and after you get into your vehicle and before you touch a customer’s luggage.

•Always keep the windows open when there is a passenger in the vehicle to help with ventilation.

•Switch off the air conditioning or set it to avoid recycling air within the vehicle to a setting that brings fresh air in and enables air changes to take place.

Social distancing advice for taxi drivers

The following social distancing advice may help keep you and your customers safer.

•The number of customers travelling in your vehicle should be kept to a minimum. Any customers in your vehicle at the same time should be from the same household.

•Where possible, customers should sit in the back of your vehicle and face away from you.

•Before the journey, ask the customer if they have any luggage or bags and if they're able to put them in the boot themselves. If they are able to do so, you should pop the boot open from inside your vehicle, if you can, and the customer should put their items in and close the boot.

•If you need to help a customer with luggage or shopping, you should keep your distance, where possible. You can do this by asking your customer to leave their bags at the back of the vehicle and then step away so you can load them.

•Avoid skin to skin contact at all times.

•If you take breaks at your operator's base, you should keep your distance from other drivers, where possible.

Cleaning your vehicle and disposing of waste

•After each customer, you should clean your vehicle thoroughly using wipes or disinfectant spray. Make sure you clean the surfaces your customers are likely to touch, such as door handles and seat belt clips.

•You should clean the areas of the vehicle you touch regularly a few times throughout the day and always at the start and end of each shift. This includes door handles, steering wheel, handbrake and switches.

•If you share your vehicle with another driver,  you should clean the inside thoroughly before the next driver gets in.

•Store any personal waste, such as tissues and cleaning wipes in disposable rubbish bags. Each driver should ensure they use a new disposable rubbish bag each shift. Follow the advice on how to dispose of personal waste.

•If your vehicle may have been used by someone displaying the symptoms or a confirmed case, then the vehicle should be decontaminated thoroughly. If this isn't possible. the vehicle needs to be left parked up and not used for a minimum of 72 hours. See how to clean your vehicle.

•You should always wash your hands after cleaning your vehicle

Guidance on Protective Screen Installation

In light of the COVID-19 virus and the impact it is having on the hackney carriage and private hire trade, South Ribble Council’s Licensing Service is happy to work with the trade to enable as many drivers as possible to continue working throughout the outbreak. In response to requests from the trade, asking if it is acceptable to install a protective screen in-between the rear passenger compartment and the driver, the Council are happy to permit, as a temporary measure, the installation of a protective screen.

If you wish to fit a temporary protective screen in your vehicle, you must first:

  1. Tell us that you are planning to fit a temporary protective screen by-emailing licensing@southribble.gov.uk
  2. Provide us with confirmation from your insurance company that your insurance is still valid if you fit a protective screen by including the written confirmation from your insurance company when you notify us.
  3. You must also agree to remove the protective screen in less than 21 days after the date the UK Government officially declares an end to the current social distancing restrictions relating to Covid-19.

Upon the Authority being satisfied that drivers/operators of Hackney Carriage/Private Hire vehicles have met the criteria outlined above you will be permitted to install a temporary safety screen in your vehicle.

The decision to install a safety screen/ partition during the current pandemic will be a matter for the vehicle owner/ driver and supplier to consider. Consideration should be given to the guidance detailed below

The Council will not accept liability in circumstances in which a screen/partition causes injury to a passenger or driver, including the failure of the screen/partition to prevent an infection

South Ribble Council does not seek to approve the use of specific safety screens and it is your responsibility to ensure that the device installed is fit for purpose and does not compromise public safety. In particular you are advised to ensure the following:

  • The device is not to be permanently installed in the vehicle and can be removed from the vehicle when the screens are no longer permitted.
  • The device must not be fitted in such a way that it affects the structural integrity of the vehicle, or interfere with any manufacturer fitted safety equipment e.g. air bags
  • The device must be composed of fire retardant materials
  • The device must meet relevant safety standards
  • The device must not impede driver or passenger access or egress to the vehicle
  • The device must not impede the driver's vision, movement or communication with passengers
  • The partition used must be clear and transparent and can only be fitted across the rear of both front seats, creating a partition between the front and rear cabin area of the vehicle.
  • Be adequately disinfected between bookings and at the start and end of the working day
  • Where possible you should ascertain that the product is compliant with any industry regulations such as the Road Vehicle (Construction and Use) Regulations and obtain evidence that the product has been tested to relevant EU standards

 

The Licensing team will respond to complaints from passengers, drivers or vehicle owners regarding the safety of individual products. Where the licensing officer has any concerns, they will speak to the vehicle owner and may require the removal of the screen / partition or other appropriate action. Any such request will be confirmed in writing together with the reasons for the request. The consequences of failure to comply with the request may result in a formal review of the vehicle licence, and or suspension/ revocation of the vehicle licence.

There is currently no Government guidance in relation to the use of screens/partitions in licensed vehicles, a letter from the Department for Transport dated the 13 May 2020 makes it clear that they currently consider this to be a matter for Local Authorities. The Council is aware that the Local Government Association is contacting Local Authorities in an attempt to try and support some uniformity of approach regarding this matter.

The Council will have due regard to any relevant information that may be published in the future and may amend its position accordingly.

It remains a licensed driver/ vehicle owners decision as to whether to work as a licensed driver during the pandemic. Any person who chooses to work should have full regard to published guidance https://www.southribble.gov.uk/coronavirus-advice-taxi-drivers .