Covid19 – Information for Taxis

Advice to the Taxi Trade

Advice to the Taxi Trade – 21st May 2021

Keeping yourself and passengers safe – Welsh Government

As a self-employed licensed driver you must conduct a risk assessment to understand the risks and what you can do about them.  You should think about how you work and ways you can protect yourself and your passengers.

As a driver, you do not have to write anything down about your risk assessment.
Guidance and examples of risk assessments are provided by the HSE.Risk assessments must reflect the current Welsh Government legislation and guidance.

Try to do the following:

- If you or someone you have been in contact with have symptoms follow the advice regarding self-isolation on the NHS Wales website.

- Ensure that passengers wear a face covering (see section on face coverings below).

- If it does not affect your ability to drive safely, you wear a face covering, but do not let the use of a face covering give you a false sense of security.  Continue social distancing and good hygiene measures including washing your hands before putting a face covering on or taking it off.  You may need to remove your face covering in order to communicate with passengers who are deaf or hard of hearing.  Please see FAQs on face coverings for further information.

- Ask passengers if they have any coronavirus symptoms before picking them up.  If potential passengers have symptoms such as a persistent cough, or high temperature or loss of sense of smell and/or taste, you should direct them to NHS Direct and refuse service.

- Ask passengers if they have had a positive coronavirus test in the last 10 days, if they have you should refuse service.

- Ask passengers to sit in the rear of the vehicle.  It is preferable that single passengers sit in the rear left-hand seat to maximise the distance between driver and passenger.

- Keep a bottle of hand sanitiser gel in your vehicle.  This should be at least 60% alcohol based.  Alternatively keep a large bottle of water and a bar/bottle of soap.  You should wash your hands for at least 20 seconds.

- Carry tissues in your vehicles and use tissues to catch coughs and sneezes.  Dispose of used tissues in a bin straight away.

- Avoid handling cash and accept alternative contactless payment methods such as a debit or credit card.  If this is not possible you should wash or sanitise your hands after handling money.
It is important to keep the vehicle well ventilated, and open windows when possible.  You should not use the recirculated air option for the car’s ventilation system when carrying passengers.

- After each passenger journey drivers must clean hard surfaces such as:

• door handles
• window winders
• seat belts
• card payment devices
• the rear of the front seats and other surface the passenger(s) may have touched or coughed/sneezed on

You should then wash/sanitise your hands.

After cleaning the vehicle, you should open windows and doors to ventilate for 5 minutes between passengers.

If you share a vehicle with other drivers you must regularly clean the following: 

• steering wheel
• gear stick
• radio equipment
• data heads
• handbrake
• indicators
• switches
• handles
• seat belts
• any other hard surfaces

- A thorough clean of the vehicle with standard cleaning products must be completed at the end of each shift/working day.

- After cleaning your vehicle you must wash/sanitise your hands.

- Ensure the vehicle remains safe and road-worthy.  You should carry out basic vehicle maintenance checks at the start of every shift.  This should include a visual check on all lights, oil and water levels, tyres, mirrors, seat belts and access ramps (where applicable).  Many garages that undertake repairs remain open.

Can I refuse to carry passengers through fear of infection?

The Institute of Licensing has provided some guidance on the legitimacy of fare refusals in relation to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

https://gov.wales/taxi-and-private-hire-vehicle-guidance

PPE and cleaning equipment - Updated 10/03/2021

DEADLINE EXTENDED. To assist you in keeping yourself and passengers safe, drivers are able to claim a free pack of PPE and cleaning equipment (including free delivery), funded by Welsh Government.

The pack contains the following:

• 5 litres of all-purpose sanitiser
• 1 trigger bottle
• 6 foaming hand sanitisers (500ml each)
• 2 packs of folded cloths (50 in each pack)
• 2 medical grade, washable face masks
• 1 box of 50 disposable face coverings
• 6 packs of Detox wipes (80 per pack)

To claim you pack you will need apply on the Lyreco website here https://wearelyreco.com/webshop-quick-set-up-welsh-government-packs/
On application you will need to provide your personal details including your hackney carriage/private hire driver’s licence number, your licensing authority, your contact details and any delivery instructions.

Please note that packs are limited to one per individual.

Applications must be made by 26th March 2021.

Advice to the Taxi Trade – 24th December 2020

Meet Financial Support

Please follow the link to the Restrictions Business Fund Discretionary Grant that you may be eligible for.

This scheme is not applicable for taxi drivers who are being employed by a taxi business and are being paid under the PAYE scheme.

https://www.blaenau-gwent.gov.uk/en/business/advice-for-business-covid-19/

Financial support may also be available here :-

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-a-grant-through-the-coronavirus-covid-19-self-employment-income-support-scheme

Travel/Teithio

Travel is limited to essential travel only, for example, for caring responsibilities or for work purposes where people cannot work from home.  It is recommended that taxi drivers do not provide transport to house parties.  For further advice:-

Alert level 4: frequently asked questions | GOV.WALES

Making a Christmas bubble with friends and family | GOV.WALES

Published Assets (assetbank-server.com)

Advice to the Taxi Trade – 2nd December 2020

Transporting people from more than 1 household

Meeting people from other households is allowed, but care should be taken to maintain social distancing.  Although people from separate households are permitted to travel together by other forms of public transport for example by bus and by train provided they maintain social distancing and other mitigations to reduce the risk of transmission of the virus, it is recommended that they travel in separate vehicles as social distancing is not usually possible in a taxi or PHV. This may mean that a group of people travelling to/from a venue may require more than one taxi/PHV.

For the latest Welsh Government advice - https://gov.wales/taxi-and-private-hire-vehicle-guidance

Taxi Journeys outside Blaenau Gwent & Collecting Contact Details - Advice issued 29/09/20

New local restrictions have been introduced in the Blaenau Gwent County Borough area by Welsh Government to reduce the spread of COVID 19 and protect public health for people living in the Borough.

One of the main restrictions is that people are not allowed to enter or leave the Blaenau Gwent County Borough area without a reasonable excuse and the Government is encouraging people to avoid unnecessary travel wherever possible.  Therefore the Council urges taxi drivers to ensure that when they accept bookings involving travel outside the area, there is a reasonable excuse for the journey to take place.  This will help prevent the spread of the virus. 

It is not mandatory for taxi drivers to wear a face covering, however in light of the current local restrictions and the high levels of positive cases, the Council encourages taxi drivers to consider wearing a face covering whilst carrying passengers in order to minimise risks from the spread of COVID 19.

Additionally, some sectors and businesses such as hospitality, are required to collect and retain customers’ contact information.  Whilst not a legal requirement for taxi businesses, in view of the current situation in Blaenau Gwent, the Council encourages taxi businesses to consider taking contact details of passengers, including name, contact number, and dates and times of travel, in order that they can be contacted by the Test, Trace and Protect Service and given the relevant advice regarding self-isolation etc. if necessary.

Covid-19 Advice for the Taxi Trade

Face Coverings in Taxis – Updated Government Guidance

The Welsh Government has updated its guidance relating to the wearing face coverings particularly in taxis and private hire vehicles.  The updated guidance can be found in the following link

Screens in Taxis

Taxi and private hire vehicle operators provide an essential service to the public and under current government guidelines can continue to operate.  If you are a taxi driver working during the COVID-19 crisis, you are no doubt worried about your own health and safety as well as that of your passengers.

The situation is constantly changing so passengers, drivers and operators are advised to keep up to date with the most recent travel guidance.  Welsh Government have published information on coronavirus (COVID-19) and travel and transport advice and guidance for passengers and operators.

Drivers and operators owe a duty to take reasonable care for the safety of their passengers and so are advised to translate the principles and examples in the government guidance into specific actions.

Following the most up-to-date hygiene and social distancing advice will help keep you and your customers safer.

  • Do not work as a driver or travel as a passenger if you have COVID-19, are experiencing any of the main symptoms or if you believe you have been exposed to the virus through a passenger (or elsewhere).
  • Keep the vehicle well-ventilated: open windows if comfortable and air conditioning should not be set to re-circulate.
  • Follow social distancing guidance and avoid physical contact: use contactless payments where possible.
  • Wash your hands regularly and do not touch your face.  Drivers may wish to have hand sanitiser and tissues on hand for themselves and passengers.
  • After each customer, the vehicle should be cleaned thoroughly using disinfectant spray, in particular the surfaces customers are likely to touch, such as door handles and seat belt clips.
  • Drivers are advised to clean the areas of the vehicle they touch regularly a few times throughout the day and always at the start and end of each shift.  This includes door handles, steering wheel, handbrake and switches.
  • Face Masks the wearing of face masks in hackney carriage and private hire vehicles will become mandatory in Wales from 27th July 2020.  However, it is important for passengers to be able to identify you as a legitimate driver.  Therefore, you may need to remove face coverings so passengers can see your identity matches up with your displayed licence badge, following appropriate social distancing guidance.
  • There has been an increase in interest of the use of screens as a way of providing physical separation between drivers and passengers in order to reduce the transmission of COVID-19.  There is no evidence available that demonstrates that partitions in taxis or PHVs reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 infection, but may have consequences as to what might happen inside the vehicle in the event of a collision.  It is important that the installation of any a protective screen is safe and doesn’t introduce new and unintended safety hazards.  The Council currently does not intend to make the installation of screens a requirement.  Drivers wishing to install a screen would need to do so in accordance with the Council’s policy for installing temporary safety screens in licensed vehicles including obtaining permission from the licencing department.  The policy can be found below.

A private hire operator is under no obligation to enter into a contract to provide a private hire vehicle for anybody, provided any such refusal is not based on a protected characteristic under s. 4 of the Equality Act 2010 (age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation).  Further guidance on when it would be reasonable to refuse a fare can be found on the institute of licensing’s website.

Further useful information can be found on the Welsh Government website.

Taxi Trade Advice - Information to taxi and private hire licensees

The Welsh Government has produced guidance for vehicle operators restarting the provision of public transport and for members of the public to safely use public transport.

For more information please visit the following links:

Operators
https://gov.wales/restarting-public-transport-guidance-operators

Public
https://gov.wales/travelling-safely-coronavirus-guidance-public

http://businesswales.gov.wales/coronavirus-advice/support/sector-specific-content/taxi-trade-advice

and for general advice:-

https://businesswales.gov.wales/coronavirus-advice/

We would also encourage you to sign up to Blaenau Gwent Business Hub

https://www.blaenaugwentbusinesshub.co.uk/BusinessSupport/Covid-19

Offers of assistance from the trade

We have received many offers of assistance from the trade which we have directed on to appropriate internal partners. Please continue to let us know of any additional ways in which you think you can support your local community at this time by contacting the Licensing Team.

You may also wish to consider letting others know centrally by visiting: www.gov.uk/coronavirus-support-from-business; this will help the Government to ensure all such offers are considered on a wider basis.

Assisting the trade

The Self-employment Income Support Scheme will allow you to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of your trading profits up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for the next 3 months.  This may be extended if needed.  More information on the scheme is available at:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-a-grant-through-the-coronavirus-covid-19-self-employment-income-support-scheme

The above is perhaps particularly relevant to the taxi and PHV trade but it is part of the measures announced, e.g. changes to Universal Credit - more info is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/support-for-those-affected-by-covid-19/support-for-those-affected-by-covid-19

Assistance for businesses

The Chancellor has set out a package of temporary, timely and targeted measures to support public services, people and businesses through this period of disruption caused by COVID-19.  More information on the measures is available at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses

Advice for the Taxi Trade - County Lines Gangs

To help safeguard vulnerable children and protect them from gangs, the Home Office, Institute of Licensing and CrimeStoppers are working to increase awareness among taxi and private hire vehicle drivers, and licensing staff, of the signs to spot a potential victim. County Line gangs are still very active even during the COVID-19 lockdown period.

Read more here - https://crowd.in/tVe0oO

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