Coronavirus advice – Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicles

Coronavirus advice – Hackney Carriage & Private Hire Vehicles

As you will no doubt be aware the recent outbreak of Coronavirus is drastically altering working practices across society. The taxi industry and local government are no exceptions.

Consequently, Southend-on-Sea Borough Council are introducing a number of measures aimed at maintaining Southend’s taxi service by protecting the drivers, the public as well as our staff.

Updated 24th September 2020 – This page has been updated to reflect changes in guidance and operations, please ensure you take the time to look through this communication.

1. Face masks and coverings

  • as of the 23rd September 2020 the wearing of a face covering is mandatory for all passengers of Taxis (Hackney Carriage Vehicles) and Private Hire Vehicles in line with The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Wearing of Face Coverings in a Relevant Place and on Public Transport) (England) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2020 
  • all passengers using a Taxi or Private Hire Vehicle for transport from place to place are required to wear a face covering, by law, unless they have a ‘reasonable excuse’. Further information as to what is a reasonable excuse can be found on the Legislation.gov.uk website
  • drivers of all Hackney Carriage and Private Hire vehicles are advised by the Government to wear a face covering where possible and this should form part of your individual risk assessment regarding your personal health and well-being
  • refusal to take a fare should be based on the risk assessment of the driver currently driving the Hackney Carriage or Private Hire Vehicle at the first point of collection before the potential passenger enters the vehicle. Please be aware that some people are exempt from wearing a face covering, full details can be obtained from the GOV.UK website. Please remember that there those with breathing difficulties and children do not need to wear a face mask or covering on public transport and to take this into account when conducting your risk assessments
  • please be aware that the emergency services or an authorised officer may request  you to temporarily remove your face mask or covering to verify your identity. You may also be asked by a member of the public who wants to check that you, as the driver, match the photo on your drivers’ badge, operators should advise potential fares and passengers at the point of booking that they are required to wear a face covering by law from 23rd September 2020.
  • as of the 23rd September 2020 the wearing of a face covering is mandatory for all passengers of Taxis (Hackney Carriage Vehicles) and Private Hire Vehicles in line with The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Wearing of Face Coverings in a Relevant Place and on Public Transport) (England) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2020 
  • all passengers using a Taxi or Private Hire Vehicle for transport from place to place are required to wear a face covering, by law, unless they have a ‘reasonable excuse’. Further information as to what is a reasonable excuse can be found on the Legislation.gov.uk website
  • drivers of all Hackney Carriage and Private Hire vehicles are advised by the Government to wear a face covering where possible and this should form part of your individual risk assessment regarding your personal health and well-being
  • refusal to take a fare should be based on the risk assessment of the driver currently driving the Hackney Carriage or Private Hire Vehicle at the first point of collection before the potential passenger enters the vehicle. Please be aware that some people are exempt from wearing a face covering, full details can be found on the GOV.UK website. Please remember that there those with breathing difficulties and children do not need to wear a face mask or covering on public transport and to take this into account when conducting your risk assessments
  • please be aware that the emergency services or an authorised officer may request  you to temporarily remove your face mask or covering to verify your identity. You may also be asked by a member of the public who wants to check that you, as the driver, match the photo on your drivers’ badge, Operators should advise potential fares and passengers at the point of booking that they are required to wear a face covering by law from 23rd September 2020

2. Test and Trace 

  • as part of the attempt to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the newly released NHS Test and Trace mobile app is available to download. One of the new features of the NHS mobile app is the ability to scan a QR code poster which confirms the user has visited that venue
  • all drivers are advised to keep a record of the passengers they take from place to place in line with the ‘maintaining records’ guidance given by the NHS test and trace service, details of which can be found on the GOV.UK website
  • you are advised to generate a poster to be displayed within your vehicle so the passenger can scan the QR code confirming they have used your services. The use of the QR code prevents the need for you to record the passenger’s details as it will be linked with the details generated through the NHS mobile app and the QR code
  • to create a QR code poster for this purpose you can visit the GOV.UK website and follow the instructions given. You should ensure that the display of the poster in your vehicle does not obscure the visibility of the windows
  • it is also advised for your own benefit to download the NHS mobile app for the test and trace service. This will prevent potential downtime to your business as it will inform you if you have been in contact with a passenger that has tested positive that has also installed the NHS mobile app. The NHS mobile app will then alert you and give you advice

Important: If you are contacted by the official test and trace service and are required to self-isolate and obtain a test, please inform the Hackney Carriage Office as soon as practically possible and do not continue to work until you have received official notice that you can continue working and a negative test result. 

For details on how the NHS test and trace service works please visit their website.  

3. It is advised where possible to reduce occupancy in the vehicle at any one time.

4. It is advised where possible to reduce the use of face-to-face seating and advise passengers not to use the front passenger seat where practically possible. Passengers should be advised to sit in the back left-hand seat if travelling alone as this is expected to be the furthest distance away from the driver. Passengers should be advised to face away from over passengers where possible.

5. It is advised to ensure good air circulation is present when carrying passengers in the vehicle, this could be by opening windows, partially or fully.

6. Contactless or cashless payment, where possible, should be encouraged to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and reduce the risk to both drivers and passengers. Where possible, BACS, telephone, internet card payment, use of a card reader or similar is suggested. We recognise that this may be more difficult for hackney carriages and if cash is exchanged, hand washing or sanitising in-between customers is even more important.

7. Keeping your taxi clean particularly on the inside is even more important and we hope to have the resilience to increase our enforcement in this area. We have seen some good examples of drivers being pro-active in reducing the risk of infection not only to passengers but also to themselves. Please remember to wash your hands thoroughly for a minimum of 20 seconds as often as possible, if you are unable to do this, please ensure you use a form of anti-bacterial gel as often as possible.

8. Where practical maintain safe distances acknowledging social distancing guidance between other drivers and passengers. 

9. Your vehicle should have all “touch” points cleaned regularly with an anti-bacterial cleaner. Ideally the touch point should be cleaned between different passengers and drivers. Parts of your vehicle such as door handles and seatbelt buckles, steering wheels, handbrakes, window switches and other areas that come into regular contact with drivers or passengers hands are classified as touch points and should be cleaned after each use. 

10. As outlined in current Government guidance, passengers should not use a Hackney Carriage or Private Hire Vehicle if they are self-isolating, any of their household are self-isolating due to experiencing symptoms or if they have symptoms of COVID-19. It is advised that best practice would be to ask passengers before they enter the vehicle if any of these apply and use your own risk assessment to decide whether to continue with the fare. Operators are advised to ask this when a customer makes an appointment and use risk assessment to decide whether the fare will be accepted. 

11. Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicle Drivers are still under the same obligation to provide reasonable assistance and make reasonable adjustments for disabled passengers.

12. If a vehicle is shared use, for example used by more than one driver, it is advised to ensure the vehicle is cleaned and touch points are cleaned with anti-bacterial cleaner before the vehicle is passed over to another driver. Social distancing should be abided by where practically possible.

13. Each rank and stand, where possible, within the Southend-on-Sea Borough has had a poster attached giving information and help for potential passengers. If you would like a copy of this poster to display within your own vehicle you can download a copy from the Taxis and Hire Cars section of the Southend-on-Sea Borough Council website.

14. A poster has been added onto the Taxis and Hire Cars section of the Southend-on-Sea Borough Council website with tips for Licenced Drivers. If you would like to display a copy within your vehicle then please visit the webpage to download a copy. 

15. If a vehicle comes into contact with a COVID-19 positive passenger or driver, it will be a  requirement for the vehicle to be  fully valeted  using a professional service before the vehicle can be used again by another driver or the same driver once their isolation period has ended

  • if your vehicle does come into contact with COVID-19 you will be required to attend the Hackney Carriage Office for an inspection once the vehicle has been professional cleaned and a copy of the receipt or invoice will need to be verified by an authorised officer before the vehicle returns to work
  • if a vehicle is not correctly cleaned or is not clean when the vehicle is presented to an authorised officer, then the Vehicle Licence may be suspended 

16. New applications for Hackney Carriage Drivers are now being accepted following COVID-19 safety guidelines. Please note appointments are limited and you need to contact the Hackney Carriage Office to make an appointment.

17. If you are considering a wrap round partition separating the driver from the passengers within the vehicle - We agree to this but with the caveat that it does not affect the safety of the occupants of the vehicle in the event of an accident, and only if the insurance company are happy with the change to the vehicle . However, please be very clear that this is only a short-term measure which will be reviewed at a later stage.

  • as you will be aware, the situation relating to Covid-19 may change and safety precautions may also change. This may involve the relaxing of some measures but could also involve more stringent measures. You will need to consider this before investing a screen

18. Topography tests are now open with limited availability and you should  contact the Hackney Carriage Department if you require to book one.

Driving tests for current applicants are still suspended, however alternative arrangements have currently been put in place. If you require a driving test please contact the Hackney Carriage Office.

Child safety and exploitation training is open with limited availability, if you are contacted to make an appointment please ensure you book a space.

All training or tests taking place within Southend-on-Sea Borough Council offices or venues will be conducted considering COVID secure guidance and safety measures.

19. The current system of carrying out DBS checks whereby the driver meets an officer who then completes an online application is  operating at a reduced capacity. If you require a DBS check you will be contacted in due course. To book an appointment please ring 01702 215005 Option 2 and then Option 1. Please remember that you have a duty to advise us of any convictions, cautions or penalty points. Please also bring 3 forms of Identification with you. A list of suitable forms of Identification is printed on the reverse of the letter you receive from us requesting you to book an appointment.

20. Whilst the Government have suspended MOT tests for some vehicles there is still a need for your vehicle to undergo its annual “Hac Test.” Autorama carries out the mechanical aspect of this test.  It is a MOT station, and as such is currently allowed to remain open.

  • we have made facility for drivers not intending to drive at this time to hand back their plates on a temporary basis
  • the subsequent inspection of your documents and vehicle will be carried out by arrangement at the rear of the Civic Centre by an officer. However, the officer will remain outside the vehicle and maintain a safe distance from the driver. (This is in accordance with government guidelines and is no reflection on you drivers!) These inspections must be pre-booked

21. Routine medicals reports and WAV registration to be submitted by email to the [email protected] inbox (as an attachment) or by post. Please retain any original documents. You will be contacted by an officer if there are any issues. We recognise that there may be difficulties in arranging GP appointments. Should you experience this please advise us at the earliest opportunity. Please continue to advise us of any new medical condition.

22. Replacement vehicles can still take place. The meter tests and sealing of the meters will be carried out by the meter agents, and we will make the necessary arrangements with them.

23. After discussion with some members SLTDA, the AC Drivers Association and managers of the four main companies the fare increase is being postponed. This will be reviewed at a later stage.

24. Licensing committee decisions are being limited to urgent issues and we have already implemented an alternative legally compliant method of carrying them out without recalling the full committee.

25. Complaints will continue to be investigated and dealt with in the appropriate manner. We remind you to be professional and courteous in what may be trying times ahead.

26. Drivers are no longer required to bring lost property to the Council offices.  However, they must report any found property to us in order that we may attempt to trace the loser via email.

Contact Licences, Permissions & Trading Standards

Telephone: 01702 215005

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