Those travelling in a taxi or private hire vehicle ’should’ wear a face covering according to new updated Department for Transport (DfT) guidance.
Whilst the regulations from the new mandatory measures placed on other forms of public transport exclude taxi and private hire vehicles (PHV), the updated guidance does now advise that taxi and PHV passengers ‘should’ wear face coverings.
Both taxi and PHV drivers ‘may be entitled to refuse’ to carry passengers who refuse to wear a face covering too.
In the new updated guidance issued by the DfT it states: 'You should wear a face covering when using taxis or private hire vehicles. A taxi driver or private hire vehicle operator may be entitled to refuse to accept you if you do not wear a face covering.'
The advice goes on to ask passengers to follow any recommendations issued by the driver during the journey. These might include being asked to sit in the back left-hand seat furthest away from the driver to reduce the risk of infection.
Passengers are also urged by the Government to use contactless payment methods where possible and to be aware of the surfaces they touch whilst inside the taxi or PHV.
Other measures included in the advice are keeping a 2 metre distance from others during the journey, one example being whilst waiting at taxi ranks. If passengers do need to be near other people they are being asked to:
avoid physical contact
try to face away from other people
keep the time spent near other people as short as possible.
Earlier this month a DfT spokesperson told TaxiPoint: “While the regulations for public transport do not cover taxis and private hire vehicles 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."
Last week, ride-hailing operator Uber, told both drivers and passengers, that they “require” all users to wear face coverings across the UK.
Jamie Heywood, Uber’s Regional General Manager for Northern and Eastern Europe, said: “For months we’ve been urging people to stay home, for their safety and the safety of drivers who make essential trips.
Heywood added: “We’ve introduced measures to ensure that every driver can access the PPE (personal protective equipment) they need for free to help keep them safe when driving with Uber, and from Monday, we will require anyone using the Uber app in the UK to wear a face covering.”
On Monday, black taxi app Gett updated its own stance saying: “From today all taxi drivers should wear a face covering at all times when in a taxi. We ask that all drivers do this where practical as not only does it keep you that bit safer it also gives passengers reassurance about travelling in a taxi.”
In traditional black taxis inbuilt partitions and a distance of 2 metres away from the driver and passenger is possible. However, in non-purpose built saloon vehicles used as taxis and private hire vehicles, social distancing has proved difficult.
Title image credits: Ross Campbell / TaxiPoint