Taxi's and COVID-19: What You Need To Know
It’s no surprise that every industry is being hit hard during the coronavirus outbreak, especially services such as public and private hire taxi drivers. A lot of livelihoods are at stake as the virus continues to take its toll on the UK, with no signs of slowing down in the near future.
Self-employed workers will be able to apply for taxable grants that are worth 80% of their average monthly profit to combat the loss of income due to coronavirus. The majority of taxi drivers are self employed and pay their bills week-to-week from the income they receive while driving.
However, many of these measures will not be put into place until late May / early June. The advice coming out at the moment for self-employed workers is to apply for universal credit – so there’s an eight week gap without any income that’s putting drivers in jeopardy.
Many key workers rely on taxi services to get to and from work, especially now their schedules have been ramped up due to the virus. There is an argument to say that taxi drivers should be treated as key workers. As without them, many institutions will be without vital workers and lives could be lost as a result of this. Seeing as taxis are being used to transport those affected by the virus, the argument for taxi drivers to be recognised as key workers is growing stronger and stronger each day.
There is good news however. For those operating as taxi drivers in London, the Mayor of London has extended the vehicle licences of drivers whose licences were set to expire between 23rd March 2020 and 30th June 2020 for six months. This is to start from the date the vehicle licence is due to end. This is, however, dependant on vehicle inspections. Other councils are set to follow the same procedures.
What Should You Do If You're Still Working?
If you decide that you are going to work during COVID-19, you are fully aware already that you may be collecting people who could have the symptoms but are unaware of it. Seeing as you encounter other members of the public frequently, you are at a higher risk of contracting the contagious illness. Especially if you are transporting those who are working at hospitals.
The first death reported in Thailand as a result of COVID-19 was that of a taxi driver. With that in mind, unless you’re transporting individuals to hospital with COVID-19 symptoms, you are fully within your right to decline business.
This includes declining those who have flu-like symptoms, people travelling from high-risk areas, or those who are / have been self-isolating. If you have been in contact with anyone like this recently, please self isolate for at least 7 days.
Practice Good Hygiene While Working
Even though we’re all being told to wear face masks and wear gloves, they might not be practical for taxi drivers, and it won’t necessarily help protect healthy individuals to avoid the virus. There are other ways to protect yourself from passengers who may be carrying the virus.
Avoid direct contact with passengers and their belongings
This is quite a difficult thing to do when you’re constantly having to deal with the general public. However, always make sure that the passenger respects social distancing and sits in the back seat. Do not allow anyone in the front with you. If you must handle any belongings that aren’t yours, use gloves or tissues when handling them.
Wash your hands regularly
This should be second nature by now. We’ve been told regularly to wash our hands thoroughly on a frequent basis. However, when you’re driving all day, this can be difficult to do. If possible, have antibacterial gel and wipes in your vehicle. Make sure to use them after handling money and any belongings, and ensure that you dispose of them properly between journeys.
Carry tissues in your cab
It’s always handy to have a load anyway, especially now. They will be useful for you and your passengers to cough or sneeze into.
Don’t sneeze into your hands
If you can, make sure you sneeze into your elbow. It’s easier to spread the virus by touching your own face and other people with your hands.
Please, for the love of god, do not touch your face
It’s one of the main rules that have been drilled into us from the start – do not touch your face. This is easier to do when you’re not in an office. Your hands will be on the wheel the majority of the time, so you’re less likely to touch your face than those who are working at a desk or behind a counter. If you do need to touch your face, grab a tissue beforehand.
Be mindful of other passengers
If a passenger of yours starts showing signs of illness in the car or before they get in, make sure they follow the hygiene rules that you’re following yourself. If they need tissues, wipes or hand sanitizer, hand it to them. Ask them to cough into tissues or their elbow. Ask them to not touch their face. Maybe have a sign or notice in the back seat for them to read before the journey begins. You do not want to become ill and spread the disease to other passengers – so make sure they know that.
Information Regarding The General Public and Travelling By Taxi
Whether the services that taxi’s offer are still available near you is dependent on the decisions your local council have made in regards to public services. It’s different from council to council. Taxi drivers have been classed as non-critical workers during the coronavirus lockdown. Although, exceptions are being made on a case-by-case basis. As we mentioned earlier, this may change in the near future as they may be recognised as key workers.
You should not travel by taxi unless it is strictly necessary, and it is vital that you do not get in a taxi for your journey if you are experiencing any of the COVID-19 symptoms. When you travel now, you are potentially putting a lot of lives in danger. It is vital that you take precautions in order to protect yourself, your driver, and other members of the public during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here’s what you should keep in mind:
1) Always sit in the back seat of the car to maximise social distancing.
2) Do not have any physical contact with your driver.
3) Avoid paying with cash. Pay with a contactless card or through an app if they have one.
4) If you are carrying luggage, lift it in and out of the vehicle yourself. Do not let the driver or anyone else touch it.
5) Make sure to carry antibacterial wipes so you can clean the seatbelt and door handles before and after you use them. Some taxi companies are already supplying them for their customers.
If you have any doubts about travelling by taxi, contact your local taxi firm to ask about any rules and regulations they have while travelling during this period.
Again – only travel by taxi if it is completely necessary. Otherwise, find alternatives methods of travelling.