New safety guidelines to protect people using taxis and private hire vehicles and their drivers during the pandemic have been issued by Bristol City Council.
The council say the guidance is designed to keep taxi drivers and their passengers safe from the spread of infection from coronavirus, as well as giving confidence to citizens who rely on this mode of transport.
Advice for licensed drivers in Bristol includes cleaning vehicles between journeys, not carrying multiple passengers from different households, as well as customer seating arrangements and encouraging card payment methods.
Drivers should also ensure their vehicles are compliant and that their own health is not putting anyone at risk, and provide reasonable assistance to passengers who require it, including those using wheelchairs, following the additional hygiene precautions outlined in the new guidance.
Councillor Kye Dudd, Cabinet Member for Transport at Bristol City Council, said: “We’re prioritising the health and safety of everyone in Bristol. We understand the concern that the pandemic has caused many people and businesses around the city about using the taxi and private hire trade.
“Many citizens, especially those that are elderly and disabled, are not able to walk or cycle to destinations and rely on taxis for safe and reliable transport. Drivers too are worried for the impact the pandemic is having on custom and want to be able to return to work safely.
"We want to build up confidence in them as one of the safest forms of our transport network.’’
Councillor Ruth Pickersgill, chair of Bristol City Council's Public Safety and Protection Committee, said: “It is crucial that we do all we can to protect both taxi drivers and their passengers in this crisis, and so I welcome these guidelines which are designed to do that in Bristol.
“We have been strongly urging the Government to provide national guidance to protect the taxi trade across the country as there have been a disproportionate number of deaths of drivers nationally and as the majority of our drivers are from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Groups they are particularly at risk from this virus.
“Taxis are also the only public transport available to many disabled and older people and I am really pleased that, in Bristol, we are doing what we can to make them as safe as possible.”
All Bristol licensed vehicles have been asked to follow these guidelines:
Only work if you are not putting anyone at risk
Ask new customers if they have any symptoms of Covid-19 before you agree to carry them
Wipe down all surfaces likely to be touched, with disinfectant or alcohol hand gel before starting your shift and after each and every journey
Clean the vehicle thoroughly between shifts
Carry a suitable alcohol based hand gel and/or wipes
Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds
Provide a suitable alcohol based hand gel for customer use prior to entry into the vehicle
Avoid touching your face, and if you have to cough or sneeze use a tissue
Provide plastic bags for customers
If carrying more than one customer, ensure they are from the same household
If passengers are not from the same household you must only carry one passenger and refuse to carry the remaining passengers
Increase ventilation by keeping windows open where possible
Always wash your hands or use sanitizing gel
Wear a face covering as a safety measure
If your vehicle breaks down, you and your customers should get out of the vehicles if safe to do so and stay two metres apart pending recovery or another car arriving to complete the journey.
Consider getting contactless/card payment facilities
Ask customers to sit facing away from you if possible, and avoid physical contact with a customer
Where it is not possible for customers to sit away, request they sit in the rear passenger seat behind the front passenger seat
Passengers with accessibility requirements: drivers are still under the same legal obligation to provide reasonable assistance to passengers who may require it.
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