New mandatory face covering measures for travelling public does NOT cover taxis or minicabs, say DfT

New mandatory face covering measures for the travelling public does NOT cover taxi and private hire vehicles confirms the Department for Transport (DfT).

The Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, yesterday announced that the DfT would work with transport operators to make it mandatory for passengers to wear face coverings when using public transport in England.

Whilst social distancing and hand washing remains by far the most important disease prevention measures, the government have now called on all passengers travelling on buses, coaches, trains, trams, ferries and aircraft to wear a face covering.

Speaking to TaxiPoint, the DfT stated that regulations for public transport did not cover taxis and private hire, but urged cabbies and operators to implement existing measures to protect drivers and passengers.

The new advice arrives following a gradual increase in people using public transport, including on the tube, which has seen around a 20% rise this week compared to last week.

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.

“Private hire vehicle operators can make the wearing of face covering a condition of hiring.

“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.”

Government officials also called for passengers and drivers to follow the basic guidance already set out which includes the use of ventilation and reducing occupancy in the vehicles.

The DfT spokesperson added: “Passengers and drivers should follow the guidance we’ve set out for private hire vehicles closely to best protect themselves and follow social distancing guidelines whenever possible.

“Our advice on face coverings remains that you should wear one in an enclosed space where social distancing isn’t possible and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet.

“Taxi drivers and private hire vehicle operators are likely to have put in place new measures to help with social distancing. These may include: eliminating the use of face-to-face passenger seating; use of ventilation; reducing occupancy to individual passengers in the back left-hand seat; reducing occupancy in a larger vehicle.”

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