Questions surrounding the potential health risks associated with private hire vehicles working between areas with both high and low COVID case rates were put to the Secretary of State for Transport.
A licensing loophole known as ‘cross-border hiring’ allows private hire drivers to pick up passengers outside of their own licensed authority. There have been concerns over potential risks posed to drivers, and the public, when drivers choose to leave an area with a high COVID case count, to work in areas with lower cases of the virus outside of their licensed authority.
There are fears that the cross-border model could be assisting the spread of coronavirus in some regions. Questions have now been raised to see what discussions have taken place to restrict cross-border hiring during the pandemic.
The International Trade Shadow Minister, Bill Esterson, asked the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment has been made on the potential public health risks of allowing licensed hire vehicle drivers to cross local authority boundaries. The question focused heavily on those vehicles moving from areas with low rates of COIVD-19 infection to areas with high rates of infection.
The Labour MP for Sefton Central went on to ask what representations have been received from local authorities requesting that such drivers are restricted from crossing local authority boundaries.
Rachel Maclean, Transport Minister for DfT, responded: “The Government has published guidance for the taxi and private hire vehicle sector on how to provide COVID-safe services during the pandemic. Taxis and private hire vehicles are able to operate across tier boundaries.
“Passengers should follow the Coronavirus (COVID-19): safer travel guidance for passengers and any other restrictions in place.”