Updated: Dec 30, 2020
Police in Northern Ireland have confirmed they will not take any further action against taxi operators working between the 8pm-6am curfew hours after one operator was incorrectly closed down for being classed as a ‘non essential’ service.
Peter Pan Taxis were forced to close on Sunday by the PSNI or face a fine for working past the 8pm curfew currently in place in Northern Ireland.
A spokesperson from Peter Pan Taxis said via social media: “The police have closed us down for tonight as they have classed our service as ‘non essential’.
“Despite being available to bring our frontline workers from A to B, they have deemed us not fit to work during the curfew.”
On the same day of the closure, Paul McCusker, the Deputy Mayor of Belfast said via social media: “Taxi service in North Belfast told to go home by police after the 8pm curfew tonight as they were not an essential service.
“This is incorrect and I have spoken to senior police to confirm this, taxi services help transport nurses,carers and are vital for the local community.”
Alan Todd, PSNI Assistant Chief Constable, released a statement the following day saying: "The current regulations as drafted do not appear to provide a specific exemption to enable taxi companies and drivers to operate after 8pm; however the police service understands that they need to continue to be available for essential purposes such as transporting key workers to and from work.
"On this basis, and pending any clarification from the NI Executive on the matter, police will not take any action in respect of taxi companies and drivers operating between 8pm and 6am for the relevant period where they are clearly operating in an essential manner.
"Where this is not the case and where a taxi company or driver is operating in a manner in which they are clearly facilitating or contributing to a breach of the regulations, officers may decide to deal with such instances appropriate to those circumstances."
McCusker also released an updated statement yesterday saying: “Following on from last night regarding the confusion whether taxis can operate past the 8pm curfew. I have spoken to the Assistant Chief Constable and informed him what happened last night in North and West Belfast and under the legislation it clearly states that taxis are permitted to operate after the 8pm curfew for essential journeys.
“Police have confirmed they will not be taking any further action and that taxi operators can remain open for essential journeys only.
“I have received lots of messages from the public worried about not getting to work and this highlights the important service that taxis provide to the local community.
“I hope this provides clarity and if any taxi operators have any concerns feel free to get in contact.”
The Belfast cab firm, Peter Pan Taxis, said yesterday: “Last night was a wrong and unlawful act and we have worked to ensure this will not happen again not just to us, but our fellow company’s across the city.
“Throughout this pandemic, we continuously brought our frontline workers to and from their workplace and we will continue to do this.”