Taxi operators should determine if face masks are a practical and safe measure, says DfT minister

Image credit: LEVC

Taxi and private hire operators should use their own risk assessments to “determine if face coverings are a practical and safe protective measure” says Department for Transport (DfT).

Rachel Maclean MP, a DfT Parliamentary Under-Secretary, also stated that evidence suggests that the most effective measures against COVID-19 whilst travelling in a cab includes social distancing, rigorous hand hygiene, not touching your face and good ventilation of fresh air throughout the vehicle.

Despite new rules forcing passengers using taxi and private hire services to wear face coverings whilst travelling, the new regulations do not cover the drivers of the vehicles.

According to DfT sources, like all transport workers, taxi drivers are not legally required to wear a face covering while in their workplace, but are urged to wear face masks where possible.

Diana Johnson, a Labour MP for Kingston Upon Hull North, asked the Secretary of State for Transport, what the scientific basis is for his Department's decision not to enforce mandatory face coverings for taxi and private hire drivers.

Rachel Maclean MP responded to the written question, saying: “The Department for Transport’s guidance for transport operators (Coronavirus: safer transport guidance for operators) advises that the risks of coronavirus should be identified through operator's conducting risk assessments.

“These inform decisions and measures to be put in place to protect both transport workers and customers. We continually review guidance for safer transport in line with scientific advice.

“Evidence tells us that the most effective measures are social distancing, rigorous hand hygiene, not touching one’s face and good ventilation of fresh air.

“It is up to the operator to use their risk assessments to determine if face coverings are a practical and safe protective measure based upon specific job roles.”

The penalty for passengers failing to wear a face covering will now be £200 for a first offence, doubling each time to a maximum fine of £6,400. This is in line with penalties for breaking the rule of six.

Relevant exemptions will continue to apply for those with health, disability, or other reasons in line with the current face coverings on public transport regulations. 

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