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Taxi and private hire vehicles

Taxi

This page was updated on the 19 July 2021

The Government has decided to move to step 4 of the roadmap. The pandemic is not over. Cases are increasing rapidly and a third wave is underway. Step 4 does not mark the end of the need for caution and restraint. It is important to remember the pandemic is not over. Cases are currently rising, as are hospitalisations. Cases, hospitalisations and, sadly, deaths, will rise further as society and the economy reopen. Lifting Coronavirus restrictions does not mean that the risks from COVID-19 have disappeared. Vigilance must be maintained and people will be asked to make informed decisions and act carefully and proportionately, to manage the risks to themselves and others. 

For more information see HM Government COVID-19 Response Summer 2021.

Carrying out risk assessments

Businesses still have a legal duty to manage risks to those affected by their business. The way to do this is to carry out a health and safety risk assessment, including the risk of COVID-19, and to take reasonable steps to mitigate the risks you identify. Many control measures that have been in place previously were there due to health and safety legislation rather than the specific coronavirus legislation. It remains very important to implement suitable control measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 between employees and members of the public.

When undertaking your risk assessment you must have regard to the available guidance. Following the guidance is not compulsory, unless specifically stated, and you are free to take other action, so long as the same level of protection is achieved. But if you do follow the guidance you will normally be doing enough to comply with the law. Health and safety inspectors seek to secure compliance with the law and may refer to guidance. Failure to implement suitable control measures may lead to formal action being taken against the duty holder(s). See www.hse.gov.uk/coronavirus for more information on COVID-19 risk assessments.

It is also important to remember that your risk assessment and subsequent controls will be influenced by the prevalence of COVID-19 in the general population of Preston, the numbers of people in Preston who have received their vaccine and the demographics of your customers (Age, general health etc). When the prevalence of COVID-19 in the general population is considered high then businesses will be expected to implement stricter control measures. When the prevalence of COVID-19 is lower in the general population then fewer or less strict control measures maybe acceptable.

High COVID-19 cases in Lancashire and stricter control measures

Currently the prevalence of COVID-19 in population of Preston and Lancashire is very high and businesses will be expected to have more and stricter control measures. These include:

  • Asking staff and customers to clean their hands regularly;
  • Cleaning surfaces that people touch regularly;
  • Reducing unnecessary contact in the workplace, where it is practical. This means ensuring different groups of customers remain separate and keeping employees working in bubbles etc;
  • Ensuring that all indoor spaces are well ventilated (ensuring windows and doors are opened) and utilising outdoor space where practical.

What guidance has been published for the taxi and private hire vehicle sector?

The Government has published transport guidance on the safe provision of transport services during the Covid-19 pandemic. There are separate guidance documents for transport providers and for passengers. Both guidance documents cover all modes.

The guidance sets out government recommendations on who should be travelling and under what circumstances, and how social distancing rules should be interpreted.It also includes information about cleaning practices.

Licensing Services has also produced a basic guide for Taxi drivers and operators during Covid-19.

View the basic guide for Taxi drivers and operators during Covid-19

Face Coverings

Drivers

Face coverings are not mandatory for drivers. However where there is no screen between a driver and passengers then we would encourage all drivers to wear a face covering when they have passengers in their vehicle.

The evidence suggests that wearing a face covering does not protect you, but it may protect others if you are infected but have not yet developed symptoms.  This is most relevant for short periods indoors in crowded areas (Such as a vehicle).

You should follow safe guidance for wearing a face covering, please visit the How to Wear a Face Covering Advice.

When wearing a face covering you should:

  • wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser before putting a face covering on
  • avoid wearing on your neck or forehead
  • avoid touching the part of the face covering in contact with your mouth and nose, as it could be contaminated with the virus
  • change the face covering if it becomes damp or if you've touched it
  • avoid taking it off and putting it back on a lot in quick succession (for example, when leaving and entering shops on a high street)

When removing a face covering

  • wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser before removing
  • only handle the straps, ties or clips
  • do not give it to someone else to use
  • if single-use, dispose of it carefully in a residual waste bin and do not recycle
  • if reusable, wash it in line with manufacturer's instructions at the highest temperature appropriate for the fabric
  • wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser once removed

Remember

  • You may need to remove your face covering in order to communicate with passengers who are deaf or hard of hearing
  • You should not wear a face coverings if it affects your ability to drive

Passengers

The requirement to wear face coverings in law has been lifted. However, the government expects and recommends that people wear face coverings in crowded areas such as public transport.  

There are some circumstances where people may not be able to wear a face covering.

Please be mindful and respectful of such circumstances, noting that some people are less able to wear face coverings, and that the reasons for this may not be visible to others.

This includes (but is not limited to)

  • children under the age of 11 (Public Health England does not recommend face coverings for children under the age of 3 for health and safety reasons)
  • people who cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability
  • where putting on, wearing or removing a face covering will cause you severe distress
  • if you are speaking to or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expressions to communicate
  • to avoid harm or injury, or the risk of harm or injury, to yourself or others ‒ including if it would negatively impact on your ability to exercise or participate in a strenuous activity

Can a taxi or private hire vehicle driver refuse to admit a passenger who is not wearing a face covering?

Taxi and private hire vehicle drivers are advised to make an assessment of risk as outlined in the transport operator guidance.

The acceptance of a booking request by a private hire vehicle operator is a decision made based on the operator's own assessment of risk. Any requirements for face coverings should be made clear to the passenger before the operator accepts the booking.

Taxi drivers can use this assessment to determine whether or not it is reasonable to admit a passenger who is not wearing a face covering, considering other mitigation's they put in place from their risk assessment. You can refuse to take a passenger if they are not wearing a face covering and they are not exempt.

This does not however absolve drivers of their duties under the Equality Act 2010.

Face covering resources from the DfT.

Should protective barriers be installed between drivers and passengers?

The installation of protective barriers is a decision for private hire vehicle operators and firm or individual operating the vehicle to make based on their own assessment of risk. 

You may also wish to consider:

  • Eliminating the use of face-to-face passenger seating
  • Use of ventilation
  • Reducing occupancy to individual passengers in the back left-hand seat for vehicles that do not enable 2 metre separation; considering reducing occupancy in a larger vehicle

It is the Council's position that the decision to install a temporary safety screen during the current pandemic is a matter for vehicle owners, drivers and operators;

  • The temporary installation of safety screens will not affect the vehicle compliance certificate;
  • The Council will not accept liability in circumstances in which a screen causes injury to a passenger or driver;

If you intend to fit a screen you must follow the government guidance: Coronavirus (COVID-19): safety screens for taxis and PHVs 

NHS Test and Trace

Being able to identify and trace persons who maybe infectious remains a top priority for the government. You are strongly encouraged to display an official NHS QR code poster. Although not legally required to do so, this will support NHS Test and Trace to contact those who may have been exposed to COVID-19 so that they can book a test. You can generate an NHS QR code poster online, to enable individuals to check in using the NHS COVID-19 app. You should also have a system in place to record contact details for those who do not have the app.  Test and Trace Register Template [253.4KB]

If you do decide to obtain contact information you should put measures in place to make sure that the personal information that you collect, store and process is compliant with the GDPR requirements.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can taxis and private hire vehicle transport passengers of ill health in and out of hospital?

Yes, but individuals should not use taxis or private hire vehicle if:

  • They have symptoms of Covid-19, a new, continuous cough or a high temperature
  • Any of your household are self-isolating due to experiencing symptoms of Covid-19.

Can taxi and private hire vehicle drivers support passengers with accessibility issues while maintaining social distancing?

Taxi and private hire vehicle drivers are still under the same obligation to provide reasonable assistance and make reasonable adjustments for disabled passengers.

The guidance includes advice on measures that workers and passengers can take when it is not possible to maintain the recommended social distance.

My Hackney or Private Hire Driver Licence is due to expire soon what will happen?

There will be no face to face appointments for the foreseeable future.

Therefore you will be asked to complete Offence and Medical declarations and your Licence will most likely be extended. This procedure will remain in place until normal services can be resumed.

Can I make a new application for a Hackney or Private Hire Driver Licence?

The Council is not currently processing any new applications during the Covid-19 emergency, however we are working to restore this service as soon as we are able. 

Anybody wanting to apply should contact Antrec Limited on 0333 023 7450 to enrol for the next Induction course and your name will be held on a waiting list.

Resources from the Department for Transport

Posters that can be displayed in Taxi Offices and Vehicles

If you have any concerns or would like any advice please contact Licensing Services on 01772 906910 or licensing@preston.gov.uk

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