Updated COVID guidance for taxi and private hire vehicles with key procedures to follow to keep you and your passengers safe.
COVID Guidance Overview
Picking up passengers
Before a passenger enters your vehicle, you should ask if they have:
- coronavirus symptoms – a fever, new cough or loss of smell or taste
- had a positive coronavirus test in the last 10 days
You should refuse service if they have.
You should wash or sanitise your hands if you come into contact with a passenger or their luggage. You should do this before and after contact.
You must continue to provide support to disabled passengers to safely enter and exit your vehicle. You must continue to assist disabled passengers with their luggage and mobility equipment.
In the vehicle
Passengers must wear a face covering in a taxi or PHV, unless they are exempt. You can refuse to take a passenger if they are not wearing a face covering and they are not exempt.
It is strongly recommend that you do wear a face covering if it does not affect your ability to drive safely and you are not exempt.
You should ask passengers to sit as far from you as possible or put a mark where you would like them to sit. Where possible they should not sit in the front of the vehicle.
Open windows when carrying passengers and/or use the car’s vents to bring in fresh air from outside. You should not use the recirculated air option for the car’s ventilation system when carrying passengers.
End of journey – leaving the vehicle
Take contactless payment if you can.
If not, you should wash your hands with soap and water or sanitiser after handling money.
You should remind passengers to wash or sanitise their hands after the journey.
Preparing your vehicle for the next passenger
Between every journey you should:
- clean those parts of your vehicle that you or passengers may have touched, for example, door handles, payment devices, protective screens, buttons, seats
- open doors / windows to ventilate the car for 5 minutes
- wash your hands for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser
The United Kingdom imposed a national lockdown, and the residents are required to stay at home and follow the restrictions. The educational institutes, bars, non-essential retail stores, and restaurants have been closed.
For now, the national lockdown only applies in England, and the rules vary for other parts of the United Kingdom, i.e., Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.
The residents are advised not to leave their home unless they have a reason, e.g.
- To work (if you cannot work from home and the job is critical or essential).
- To purchase essential food items and groceries.
- To buy medical supplies.
- To access education (however, all schools, colleges, and universities shall remain closed).
- To visit close family.
- To visit the hospital, clinic, GP, or to attend any other medical appointments.
- To exercise (outdoor exercise is only permitted if the person is travelling a short distance within their area).
Other than that, the public are advised to travel by walking or cycling and are also recommended to avoid busy routes and times when commuting through public transport, which will allow them to travel while practising and maintaining social distancing safely. Individuals are also prohibited from sharing a car with anyone outside their household and close family.
People have been prohibited from travelling in the following cases:
- Have been told to self-isolate by the NHS.
- Are facing any of the COVID-19 symptoms.
- Staying with someone who has the indications of the coronavirus.
- Practising self-isolation due to the symptoms of COVID-19
Symptoms of COVID-19
- High temperature
- Continuous cough
- Loss or change in the sense of smell and taste (also known as anosmia)
The national lockdown is said to last until the middle of February 2021. In January 2021, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that the people would only be allowed outside if they have to purchase medical supplies and essential food items, attend medical appointments, work (if working from home is not possible), and to take care of a vulnerable person.
People are advised to stay 6 feet (approximately 2 metres) away from individuals they do not reside with.
People can also maintain social distancing by staying at least 3 feet (about 1 metre) away from people by following extra precautions such as wearing face masks and gloves.
It is also compulsory for people to follow the following Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs):
- Wear a surgical face mask, a cloth mask, or other respirators
- Avoid interacting with people outside of their household or close family.
- Wash your hands regularly.
- Sanitise your hands regularly and adequately.
- Cover your nose and mouth when you have to cough or sneeze.
- Avoid shouting, singing, and speaking loudly.
- Dispose of the face masks, gloves, and other waste safely.
- Wear a face mask if you have to use public transport.
There are a few specific activities for which people are allowed to travel in groups, only if the said activity is essential, such as:
- For a work activity (if the work activity is crucial and an employee or employer has organised the transportation means)
- Travelling to provide support and care for a vulnerable person.
- To travel for a competition, game, or training (if the concerned person is a professional sportsperson)
- To assist people in an emergency.
- To avoid illness or injury.
- To escape when there is a risk of harm or abuse.
- To attend a legal obligation (e.g., jury or court service)
- Making plans where the children have two separate households, parents, or guardians.
The police are allowed to take actions against the residents found breaking the rules and regulations. The citizens can be issued a fine of £200 the first time they break the law; the fine can be decreased to half of £200 if the penalty is paid within two weeks. The penalty can go up to £400 if the person is found offending the law for the second time. After the second time, the penalty will keep on doubling up for each offence.
People are advised to stay at home and avoid travelling outside of their city, town, or village. However, if they have to travel, they must not gather or travel with people outside of their household when travelling through an aircraft, maritime vessels such as ferries, public transport, taxis, coaches, private hire vehicles, or other transportation means.
People are also required not to use a taxi or a private hire vehicle if they face any of the virus’s symptoms (high temperature, continuous cough, or anosmia) or if any of their household members is self-isolating due to the signs of the coronavirus.
Guidelines for Taxis and Private Hire Vehicle Passengers
- It is necessary for people to stay 6 feet (or approximately 2 metres) away from individuals they do not reside with. People can also maintain social distancing by staying at least 3 feet (about 1 metre) away from people with extra precautions such as wearing a face mask and gloves, etc.
- People have to follow the direction given by the drivers and operators. The advice can include being asked to sit on the left-hand side of the backseat when unaccompanied. The taxi or private hire operators also have the right to request the passengers to follow any additional procedures.
- People are recommended to pay in advance through online means and making the payment as contactless as possible to avoid any chance of getting the virus.
- People are advised to not touch any surfaces on the taxi or private hire vehicle. They are also advised to use a hand sanitiser if they come in contact with the surfaces of the car they are travelling through.
- People are advised to prevent touching their face to avoid the risk of COVID-19. They are also advised to cover their nose/mouth when they have to sneeze or cough by the use of a tissue.
- People can also cough or sneeze right into their elbows if they do not have a tissue nearby.
- People travelling are also advised to sanitise or wash their hands as soon as they the chance for at least 20 seconds after finishing their journey.
The individuals are under an obligation to wear a face mask or a respirator when using a taxi or a private hire vehicle. The person driving the taxi or private hire vehicle has a right to refuse to take a passenger if they are found violating the order of not wearing a face mask unless the passenger is exempt from the requirement (due to age, health, or disability reasons). In case a person is found violating the law, they could be fined £200 if the law has been broken for the first time, the amount can be reduced to £100 if paid within the first two weeks.
As mentioned above, few passengers can be exempted from the requirement of wearing a face mask, such as:
- Children under the ages of 11. Children over the age of 11 travelling on a mode of dedicated school transport in a Taxi or Private Hire Vehicle are also exempted from wearing a face mask; however, they would have to wear one when using an ordinary taxi or private hire vehicle.
- Passengers sharing a household, berth, cabin, or other accommodation.
- Passengers who use their private vehicle before travelling through a public means of transport.
- Employees of the transport hub.
- Police officers, constables, and border force officers when on their duty.
- Emergency responders (e.g. fire officers or paramedics when on their duty).
- People with mental illnesses.
- People with a physical disability or impairment that hinders their ability to wear a face mask.
- People who face severe agony due to face masks.
- People who are travelling with someone who communicates through lip reading.
- People who are travelling to avoid the risk of being harmed/abused and are not carrying face-covering with them
- People who are travelling to avoid being injured and are not carrying a face-covering with them.
- People who have to drink or eat while travelling on public transport.
- People who have to take medication while travelling on public transport.
- People who are asked to remove their face mask by a constable or a police officer for different reasons.
The government has also produced badges and cards that people can carry or wear to show that they are exempted from wearing a face mask. However, the badges and cards are not mandatory, and the transport workers do not have the right to ask passengers for evidence.
Guidelines for Taxis and Private Hire Vehicle Drivers
The requirement of wearing a face-covering is not applied to transport workers when they are on duty; however, it is important that they use a face mask if it does not affect their driving ability. The drivers also have to wear a face mask when they are not driving, e.g. when they are travelling to or from work while on public transport, shopping for groceries or other essentials, or while they are on a break from driving.
The transport staffs are also recommended to wear face masks when practising social distancing is difficult, e.g., when the drivers have to provide support to passengers with a disability, etc. If the drivers are wearing a face-covering, they are also advised to follow the following steps:
- Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle drivers are under an obligation to wash their hands properly for at least 20 seconds with soap and water before putting and after removing the face-covering.
- Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle drivers are required to regularly and adequately sanitise their hands before putting and after removing the face-covering if there is an absence of water or soap.
- Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle drivers are advised not to touch their face and their face-covering.
- Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle drivers must change their face-covering if it has been touched to prevent contamination with the germs from their hands.
- Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle drivers are recommended to change their face-covering if it gets damp.
- Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle drivers need to ask the passengers if they possess any symptoms of COVID-19 before picking them up from their destination. Suppose the passenger has any symptoms such as a high temperature, continuous cough, or loss/change in the sense of taste or smell; in that case, the drivers can refuse the passenger’s request and direct the concerned passengers to NHS Direct.
- Taxi and Private Hire Vehicles drivers need to ask the potential passenger whether they have had a positive COVID-19 test during the last few days; if they have had a positive COVID-19 test, they should refuse the passenger’s request.
- Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle drivers have to wash their face-coverings if the material can be washed. Follow the instructions given by the manufacturer. In case the face-covering is not washable, dispose of it safely..
- Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle drivers must practice social distancing whenever and wherever possible.
- Taxi and Private Hire drivers are recommended to keep a few face masks for passengers who do not have face masks.
- The passenger might also ask the taxi and Private Hire Vehicle drivers to identify themselves to see whether the driver’s identity matches up with the display picture or the licence badge. However, passengers and drivers must follow social distancing rules in this case.
- Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle drivers should also advise passengers not to travel unnecessarily and refuse the passengers if they are travelling without any cause.
- Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle drivers should not drop the passengers to gatherings and events outside their households.
How Can the Risks of COVID-19 be Reduced?
Since it is difficult to practice social distancing while travelling in a taxi or private hire vehicle, the drivers and passengers need to follow the following procedures to avoid and reduce any COVID-19 related risks:
- Travel in a taxi or private hire vehicle with the same people, except if the trip is being carried out for an exempt reason.
- Try travelling by minimising the group size and only travel if it is essential to do so.
- Open the windows for ventilation.
- Travel by sitting behind other people or by sitting side by side instead of facing them.
- Face away from each other if the arrangement of the seating allows doing so.
- Try to maximise the distance between people when sitting in a vehicle.
- Sanitise the car by using relevant cleaning products.
- Clean the door handles, seat belts, window winders, front seats, card payment devices, and other surfaces that the passengers might have touched.
People are also advised to plan their journey ahead of travelling and avoid travelling unnecessarily. To effectively plan the trip, the citizens must keep the following questions in mind:
- Have I checked the restrictions that apply to the area I am travelling to?
- Instead of travelling through a taxi or private hire vehicle, can I instead walk to the destination?
- Instead of travelling through a taxi or private hire vehicle, can I instead cycle to the place?
- Am I up-to-date with the newest travel information?
- Have I checked whether I can adapt to contactless payment by checking if online payment is possible?
- Have I planned the journey so that I can avoid crowded areas?
- Have I downloaded the NHS COVID-19 application?
- Do I have all the necessary things I need to take with me while travelling?
Necessary Things to Keep While Travelling
Face-Coverings: People are advised to take face-coverings with them (e.g. a surgical mask, cloth masks, and other respirators) when they have to use a taxi or private hire vehicle, especially for longer journeys.
Plastic Bag: People are advised to take a plastic bag with them to dispose of their face-coverings safely when in a taxi or private hire vehicle, especially for longer journeys.
Payment Cards: People are advised to pay in advance through online means and making the payment as contactless as possible to avoid any chance of getting the virus. If online payment is not possible, then the passengers and drivers are advised to sanitise or wash their hands after handling money.
Smartphone: The smartphone can come in handy for travel updates so that the drivers/passengers can avoid crowded areas. They can also use the smartphone if the NHS COVID-19 application needs to be accessed, and pay the taxi or private hire vehicle drivers online.
Hand Sanitiser: People are advised to use a hand sanitiser that is at least 60% alcohol-based if they come in contact with the surfaces of the vehicle they are travelling through.
Necessary medicines: People are advised to take necessary medications with them especially for longer journeys
Tissues: People are also advised to take tissues with them to cover their nose and mouth if they have to sneeze or cough.
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