According to Downing Street, taxi and private hire drivers can assist international travellers with self-isolation.
New travel guidelines were recently published by the government to help reduce the rate of overseas coronavirus infection. Anyone who is entering the UK from outside the Common Travel Area (CTA) must provide contact and journey details before travelling to the UK, in addition to being required to self-isolate for a 14-day period.
These new rules are applicable to anyone entering the UK, nationality and trip length will not be considered. However, a few specified exemptions are possible.
The Secretary of State for Transport was asked by Sir Charles Walker MP, about which part of the new measures apply to the licensed taxi trade, and whether black cabs would be allowed to pick up passengers from international airports that serve the capital.
Confirmation was provided by the Department for Transport (DfT) advising that passengers should use public transport, taxis and private hire if “they have no other option”.
Rachel Maclean MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for the Department for Transport, said that: “The ’Coronavirus (COVID-19): how to self-isolate when you travel to the UK’ guidance instructs those arriving in the UK and required to self-isolate to only use public transport (which includes taxis and private hire vehicles) if they have no other option.
“Passengers are advised in the ’Coronavirus (COVID-19): safer travel’ guidance for passengers that a face covering should be worn when using a taxi or taxi private hire vehicle and that they may be refused carriage if they do not wear one. Face coverings should also be worn in other enclosed spaces where it is difficult to maintain social distancing, for example, at stations, interchanges and ports.”
The government will also offer taxi drivers along with other ‘high risk’ professionals regular COVID-19 testing, as it hopes to phase out the disease.
Furthermore, the government will also ask people working in high risk roles to take tests for coronavirus even if they do not show any symptoms of COVID-19, this is part of the NHS Test and Trace programme. This new guidance targets those working in roles that require them to spend extended periods of time with customers or colleagues in an enclosed and confined space. This will hopefully identify those who are asymptomatic as quickly as possible and help prevent a second peak of the virus.
There are valid concerns that a number of people who do not show symptoms of the virus are unknowingly transmitting the infection to other members of the public. It is estimated that as much as 70% of people who have COVID-19 do not show symptoms that are associated with the virus.
Many taxis in the UK already have partitions that separate drivers from passengers as standard. However, there are still a number of saloon model cars that make social distancing extremely challenging. Private hire vehicles all use standard saloon cars where social distancing is almost impossible.
Fortunately, the rate of infection is rapidly decreasing, but we will have to remain vigilant to rid the nation of coronavirus.