Confusion reigns over whether new TfL guidance on taxi & minicab face coverings are mandatory or not

Confusion has reigned over whether new face wearing guidance issued to taxi and minicab drivers and passengers is mandatory or not in the capital.

London regulators Transport for London (TfL) yesterday stated that from Monday 15 June, taxi and private hire (TPH) drivers “should” wear a face covering at all times when in a taxi or private hire vehicle.

The advice comes after Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, earlier announced that the Department for Transport (DfT) would work with transport operators to make it mandatory for passengers to wear face coverings when using public transport in England.

However, the DfT said that the new mandatory face covering measures for the travelling public does NOT cover taxi and private hire vehicles.

Graham Robinson, Taxi and Private Hire General Manager at TfL said in a notice to the industry: “While the Government advice doesn’t explicitly cover the use of taxi and private hire services, this guidance is intended to mirror the arrangements put in place on public transport.”

A Department for Transport (DfT) spokesperson told TaxiPoint: “While the regulations for public transport do not cover taxis and private hire vehicles (PHV) the trade is already able to implement measures to protect drivers and passengers. 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."

The DfT added: “We would encourage all licensing authorities to consider ways in which they can work with their licensees to support all reasonable measures to protect taxi and PHV drivers and passengers.”

In the guidance issued by TfL to people wishing to use the services of black cabs and minicabs, passengers are being “advised” that they should wear face coverings when travelling for the duration of the journey.

The capital’s regulator goes on to add that if a passenger is not wearing a face covering, then taxi and private hire drivers can refuse to carry them, taking into account any mitigating circumstances such as the age of the child (as passengers under 3-years-old are exempt from the advice).

Passengers making journeys that are booked through a private hire operator or hailed via a taxi app should now be informed, in advance, of the face covering requirement.

Cabbies being hailed on the street or at a rank, are also now "expected" to advise the public not wearing a covering of the new advice and where to buy a face covering before entering the vehicle.

Steve McNamara, General Secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association (LTDA) told members: “Whilst its perfectly reasonable to expect Private Hire drivers, and their passengers, to wear masks in a small un-partitioned saloon car, where social distancing is impossible and where the risk of infection is high. We see it as totally unnecessary, overly burdensome and restrictive in a purpose built vehicle, with a partition, and where social distancing is possible.

“If members who are in the higher risk categories, or others prefer to wear a mask, that's fine, but to make it mandatory is unnecessary.”

Taxi drivers have been left confused whether the guidance issued by TfL is mandatory or not. Responses from taxi drivers include:

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