Information for the taxi and private hire vehicle industry.
We understand that the taxi and private hire industry may have concerns about the implications of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
Coronavirus alert level 4 restrictions
A new variant of the virus that spreads more easily is now circulating everywhere in Wales.
All of Wales is at alert level 4, which means that:
- people must stay at home, except for very limited purposes
- people must not visit other households, or meet other people they do not live with
- many types of businesses are required to close
Please see Alert level 4: frequently asked questions for further details of the new rules.
Should I continue to work?
Taxi and private hire vehicle drivers can continue to work. However, journeys must be for essential travel only such as for work purposes where people cannot work from home, or shopping for essential items.
It is the passenger that could be fined for non-essential travel and breaking alert lever 4 rules, rather than the driver. However in order to assist in reducing the transmission of Covid-19 in the area we would expect drivers and operators to establish reasons for travel taking place during the alert level 4 lockdown.
You must advise passengers against non-essential travel, and it would be considered acceptable to refuse a passenger making a non-essential journey during this time. At this time you should not be transporting passengers to house parties and social events outside their households/social bubbles.
Passengers should not share a taxi or PHV with someone outside their household or their support bubble, unless the journey is undertaken for an exempt reason.
We would however urge you to take any possible passenger safeguarding issues and your duties to passengers with disabilities into consideration.
You must not continue to work if you are told to self-isolate, as you must stay at home and limit contact with others outside your household.
See further information on self-isolation rules.
If you are unable to work or have reduced income you may be eligible for support.
If you are self-employed
If you are employed
Support is available for people who are employed to help you keep your job or financial assistance if you are ill or self-isolating.
Financial support packages are available to businesses. Find more information and how to apply: Coronavirus support for your business.
Discretionary Assistance Fund
You may be eligible for a grant to help pay for essential costs such as food, gas, electricity, clothing or emergency travel if you are experiencing extreme financial hardship.
You must ensure that your vehicle remains safe and roadworthy. You can be prosecuted for driving an unsafe vehicle.
MOT stations are open.
You should keep up to date on information about stopping the spread of COVID-19 and self-isolation. Health advice is available on the NHS Wales website.
Keeping yourself and passengers safe
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.
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
- 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.
PPE and cleaning equipment
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 Lyreco’s website. 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 5 March 2021.
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.
Passengers who are blind and partially sighted
The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association have guidance on their website for taxi and minicab staff who transport people who are blind or partially sighted.
Changes to licence application processes and licence expiries
Your licensing authority may have made changes. Check your licensing authority’s website for information.
DVLA driver licences
If you have a DVLA photocard or a driving licence entitlement that expires between 1 February 2020 and 31 December 2020 you will be given a 11 month extension from the date of expiry. This means you do not need to renew until 11 months after the original expiry date.
More information can be found on GOV.UK.
Can I install a safety screen in my vehicle to protect myself from coronavirus (COVID-19)?
The installation of protective barriers or safety screens is a decision for licensing authorities, PHV operators and firm/individual operating the vehicle to make based on their own assessment of risk.
Before considering installing a safety screen you should contact your licensing authority to:
- check that they will permit the installation
- ensure that the screen and installation will meet their requirements
Can taxi and PHV drivers support passengers with accessibility issues while maintaining social distancing?
Taxi and PHV drivers are still under the same obligation to provide reasonable assistance and make reasonable adjustments for disabled passengers. You should follow the guidelines above including good hygiene practices when it is not possible to maintain the recommended social distance.
Mandatory use of face coverings
As of 27 July 2020 all passengers using public transport (including taxis and private hire vehicles (PHVs)) must wear a face covering. Welsh Government recommends wearing a three layer face covering.
You should always ask a passenger to put on a face covering before they get into your vehicle, but you should be aware that some passengers may be exempt or have a reasonable excuse for not wearing one. For example some people cannot wear or put on a face covering due to a physical or mental illness. It is suggested that you familiarise yourself with the guidance in relation to face coverings.
Passengers travelling in a taxi or PHV without wearing a face covering, may be liable to a fine.
Although it is only a legal requirement for passengers to wear a face covering on public transport, in order to reduce the risk of Covid-19 transmission, we would advise that drivers also wear a face covering. See our video on how to make a 3 layer face covering for further information.
It's important for passengers to be able to identify you as a legitimate driver. Therefore, please be prepared to remove your face covering so passengers can see your identity matches up with your displayed licence badge. This must be done following the current social distancing rules.
Children under 11 years old are not required to wear a face covering. Children over 11 years old travelling on dedicated school transport in a taxi or PHV are also exempt from wearing a face covering, but they will need to wear one for ordinary taxis/PHV journeys that are not part of dedicated school transport.
What to do if a passenger is not wearing a face covering
It should be noted that it is the passenger that it liable for contravening the regulations if they fail to wear a face covering without an exemption or reasonable excuse. The driver is not liable under the regulations, however, it is recommended that you consider the following steps if a passenger is not wearing a face covering:
- Ask the passenger why they are not wearing a face covering to establish whether they are exempt or have a reasonable excuse such a health issue that prevents them from wearing a face covering (they do not have to provide proof of exemption).
- Consider keeping a supply of face coverings for passengers who do not have a face covering with them. You cannot charge for face coverings as part of a hackney carriage fare unless explicitly permitted by your local authority.
- As it is a mandatory requirement that passengers wear face coverings in taxis and PHVs, you should refuse to transport a passenger who is not wearing a face covering if they do not have a reasonable excuse to not be wearing one.
- You may transport a passenger that is exempt or has a reasonable excuse for not wearing a face covering:
- Hackney Carriage drivers are not permitted to refuse hire without reasonable excuse. Hackney Carriage drivers will therefore need to carefully consider the individual circumstances of passengers and assess the risks and all relevant precautionary measures that may be taken before refusing a fare.
- Taxi and PHV drivers will need to consider their duties under the Equality Act 2010 in relation to transporting passengers with disabilities.
Face covering notices
Notices advising passengers of their legal obligation to wear face coverings should be displayed in a prominent place in taxis and PHVs. Public waiting areas at booking offices, websites and apps should also display notices.
Information for PHV operators
PHV operators and taxi intermediaries that are employers must carry out a risk assessment in line with government guidance.
If you have fewer than 5 employees including non-drivers (dispatchers, booking agents etc), you don’t have to write anything down as part of your risk assessment.
Risk assessments must reflect the current Welsh Government legislation and guidance.
The risk assessment will help inform decisions and control measures. Guidance and examples of risk assessments are provided by the HSE.
- It is a legal requirement that operators provide information to passengers about the requirement to wear face coverings. It is recommended that this is done at the time of booking confirmation either verbally or electronically such as website/app/email information.
- You should establish reasons for travel from passengers to ensure this is in line with alert level 4 restrictions
- When a passenger advises the operator that they are exempt or have a reasonable excuse to not wearing a face covering, it is recommended that this information is passed onto the driver prior to the journey.
- You should encourage drivers and passengers to download the NHS Covid-19 app.
- Passengers should be reminded to wash their hands before entering the vehicle and after the journey.
- Please read our guidance on how public transport operators can keep premises and workplaces safe in order to protect employees and passengers from coronavirus.
- General information on how to keep workplaces safe is also available.
Collecting passengers returning from international travel
International travel is only permitted for limited reasons. Passengers returning from international travel may be subject to quarantine rules. Drivers transporting these passengers from the port/airport will not be subject to the quarantine rules, but should follow the measures outlined in this guidance to keep yourself and passengers safe.
Test, Trace, Protect
The NHS Wales Test Trace and Protect service has been set up to control the spread of new outbreaks through testing those with symptoms, tracing their close contacts and protecting family, friends and communities through self-isolation.
Under this strategy some businesses such as restaurants, bars and cinemas are required to gather ‘contact information’ from customers.
Taxi/PHV drivers and operators are not legally required to obtain contact information from passengers, although it would be good business practice to do so.
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.
The NHS Covid-19 app has been set up to work alongside traditional contact tracing, to notify users if they come into contact with someone who later tests positive for coronavirus.