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Mandatory face coverings RETURN for passengers using taxis and private hire services

Mandatory face coverings are back for all passengers wishing to use a taxi or private hire vehicle in England as of today.

The latest measures have been introduced as a precaution while more information is gathered and assessed on the COVID-19 Omicron variant’s transmissibility and any possible effects on vaccines.

The Government are keen to stress that vaccines continue to remain the best line of defence, and all adults who have not yet received their first or second dose of the vaccine, or those who are eligible for their booster are encouraged again to come forward to help protect themselves and others.

From 4am this morning the following new measures apply:

  • Face coverings are compulsory in shops and settings such as banks, post offices and hairdressers, as well as on public transport unless individuals are exempt from doing so. All hospitality settings are exempt.

  • All international arrivals must take a PCR test by the end of the second day after arrival and self-isolate until they receive a negative result. The PCR tests are available online from private providers.

  • All contacts of suspected Omicron cases must self-isolate, regardless of their age or vaccination status. They will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “The measures taking effect today are proportionate and responsible, and will buy us time in the face of this new variant. Based on everything we know, our vaccines and boosters remain our best line of defence, so it is more important than ever that people come forward when eligible to get boosted. Not only will today’s steps help us slow down the variant’s spread, but they will help us protect each other and the gains we have all worked so hard for.”

The National Private Hire and Taxi Association (NPHTA) confirmed the news that passengers travelling in taxis and private hire without a face covering could now be liable for enforcement action which includes a fine.

Like earlier this year, taxi drivers are not part of the mandatory face covering measures, however that are being told they should wear a covering where possible and also follow instructions from licensing authorities and operators.

Other recommendations being made to passengers of taxis and minicabs include:

  • Even after receiving a vaccine, you should continue to follow guidance on how to travel safely when using taxis or private hire vehicles.

  • Follow the advice of the operator and driver. For example, you may be asked to sit in the back left-hand seat if travelling alone. You may want to check with your taxi or private hire operator before travelling if they have put any additional measures in place.

  • You should use contactless payment if possible, or find out if you can pay online in advance.

  • Where possible open windows for ventilation when in the vehicle.

  • Be aware of the surfaces you touch. Be careful not to touch your face. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or the inside of your elbow when coughing or sneezing.

  • When finishing your journey, wash your hands for at least 20 seconds or sanitise your hands as soon as possible.


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