Covid-19: Advice for taxi drivers

Covid-19: Advice for taxi drivers

Government advice

The Government has published advice for drivers, operators and owners of taxis or private hire vehicles (PHVs) so that they can protect against coronavirus.

This includes information on travel over the festive period, carrying out COVID-19 risk assessments, preparing your vehicle for the next passenger and financial help.

For more information please see the Government website here.

Newington Road licencing and test centre

Our taxi licensing office and test station at Newington Road East is now fully operational with up to five pre-arranged MOT test appointments available hourly from 7.30am to 3.30pm. 

All taxi and private hire applications have been moved to an on-line format with an e-mail invitation made to existing licensees to renew. 

The office is staffed and appointments including for Disclosure & Barring Service and DVLA presentations and any other licensing related enquiries are available by means of advance booking. 

A dedicated telephone number, 07775 011 353 is available to provide further trade support.

If taxi or private hire vehicle drivers have any other queries they should contact LicensingNewingtonRoad@newcastle.gov.uk

Testing for taxi drivers

Testing to identify asymptomatic but potentially infectious individuals helps to reduce the risk of transmission and outbreaks of Covid-19.

Lateral flow testing for Covid-19 is available to all key workers in Newcastle - including taxi drivers - in the Banqueting Hall at the Civic Centre.

More information is available here and in this news story.  

If you do have symptoms of Covid-19, you should not participate in asymptomatic testing and instead book a test at www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test   

Installation of flexible PVC screens

We appreciate taxi drivers face a difficult and unprecedented situation and that many are keen to install a plastic screen to provide a temporary barrier to protect both themselves and their passengers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Public safety is paramount and, in the absence of specific Department for Transport guidance, we will permit this measure, which minimises the risk of spreading the virus, keeps people safe and enables business to continue.

If drivers decide to fit a screen they must ensure that it is in compliance with any insurance requirements and does not invalidate their policy.

So far more than 200 vehicles have had screens fitted, and while we are unable to approve the use of a particular product, we have issued advice for drivers who are considering doing so.

Installing a screen - What to consider

Drivers should consider a number of matters including, but not limited to: 

  • Ensuring that the Road Vehicle (Construction and Use) Regulations and all relevant safety, UK and European Community (EC) legislation is complied with.
  • Ensuring that this guidance is complied with.
  • Health and safety responsibilities and personal liability to employees, hirers and passengers.
  • Informing insurers of the intention to fit such a device.

If a temporary flexible safety screen is installed in a vehicle being used for hackney carriage or private hire purposes we. as licensing authority, would require that: 

  • The installation and/or design of the screen must not adversely influence or interfere in any way with vehicle type approval.
  • Installation and maintenance of the driver safety screen should be in full accordance with the manufacturer’s specification and recommendations.
  • The screen installed should not be significantly changed or modified from the original manufactured design. In cases where it is necessary to modify the original design of the screen (for example, to facilitate installation of the device in the vehicle), assurances should be sought from the supplier/installer that the modification does not raise any concerns in relation to safety of the screen and complies with the relevant EC safety legislation. Certification from the vehicle’s manufacturer should be sought to confirm that the screen does not compromise the integrity of the vehicle structure.
  • The screen should be constructed of PETg or polycarbonate.
  • The screen must be approved by MIRA or other comparable independent product engineering, testing, consultancy and certification organisation.
  • The screen should remain clear and be free of scratches, clouding or stickers which would impede the drivers or passengers’ visibility or communication.
  • The screen should not impede entry or egress or present a trip hazard to passengers using the vehicle.
  • The screen must only be fitted by way of either Velcro or adhesive fastenings, which can be removed from the vehicle when the screens are no longer permitted.
  • The screen must not wrap around the driver seat and create a partition between the two front seats, in addition to the rear cabin area.

Any permission in relation to screens from us will only remain valid while social distancing measures remain in force and it would be anticipated that the screen be removed no later than a maximum of 21 days after COVID-19 restrictions end.

We will notify drivers when the relevant social distancing measures are no longer required.

Please note that if any further guidance is issued by the Department for Transport (or any such governing body) on this matter, all vehicles will be required to be fully compliant with that.

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