The council fully supports an initiative for taxis and private hire vehicles to install a plastic screen separating the driver from passengers to protect all residents travelling now and in the future.
For the safety of the taxi and private hire workforce and the passengers paying for a ride, polycarbonate clear screens are being recommended by licensed vehicle governing bodies. The council has decided this will not incur any additional testing and checks as part of the licensing process.
With lockdown continuing and the after affects expected to change long term behaviours, coupled with limited public transport, it is predicted there will be a rise in taxi use and screens in taxis can provide a basic level of protection for everyone in a vehicle.
A spokesman for National Private Hire and Taxi Association, the NPHTA, said: “We believe the installation of a protection screen between the front and back compartment of the vehicle, of similar standards to that seen in a purpose built hackney carriage combined with the wearing of PPE facemasks, and observing the extensive cleaning protocols, offers the best possible form of protection. This approach will also boost the public’s confidence in making use of those services again.
“It is hoped that eventually, the general public will be transportable by taxi and private hire vehicles once again in a more normal fashion and volume. The only way this can happen is by boosting the confidence they have in entering and using all types of licensed vehicles; we must be seen to do anything within our power to achieve this.”
Cllr Pavitar K. Mann, cabinet member for planning and regulation, said: “Covid-19 is not a short term pandemic and the council has taken the decision screens are a benefit if added to a vehicle.
“However, licence holders must have them professionally installed and the screens must be of the right quality so residents have confidence using licensed vehicles.
“Drivers are reminded to deep clean vehicles regularly and as this is not an airborne virus but one transmitted by droplets from coughs and sneezes..
“I appreciate that there are costs involved for the drivers, but the safety of the drivers and passengers is paramount.”
The council recommends drivers contact their insurer prior to any installation and all installations are carried out by trained professionals with verified polycarbonate units which can cost up to £500.