Taxis and Minicabs
ADVICE TO HACKNEY CARRIAGE AND PRIVATE HIRE DRIVERS - COVID - 19
25th March 2020 During the current pandemic, it is up to every individual to take necessary precaution to limit social interaction, and comply with the evolving Government guidance, this will have an impact on the taxi trade which will most likely result in a significant downturn in requirement, however hackney carriage and private hire vehicles will still remain a vital form of transport for many, including to and from hospitals, GPs, other keyworkers and to go shopping.
The latest guidance from the DfT was received today and states as follows:
- Taxis and private hire vehicles can continue to work. But the advice is absolutely clear - people should stay at home if possible. That is the way to save lives and protect our NHS. The public should avoid travel unless absolutely essential. The only reasons to leave our houses are set out in the government guidance.
- Clearly if absolutely necessary to travel by taxi or private hire vehicle, best efforts should be used to follow the guidance as far as is practically possible.
- Taxi and private hire drivers should not generally be considered Critical Workers. Those undertaking Home to School transport or the transport of 'extremely vulnerable' people may be considered Critical Workers on a case-by-case basis
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- No activity is risk-free: the key is to take all sensible reasonable precautions to protect both drivers and passengers.
- It will be for each individual driver to decide whether they are prepared to take the risks associated with providing hackney carriage and private hire services, in line with Government guidance.
In relation to the driver themselves, they should not work if they, or anyone in their household, have a new continuous cough and/or a high fever and should at that point self-isolate.
- If you live alone and you have symptoms of coronavirus illness (COVID-19), however mild, stay at home for 7 days from when your symptoms started
- If you live with others and you are the first in the household to have symptoms of coronavirus, then you must stay at home for 7 days, but all other household members who remain well must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days. The 14-day period starts from the day when the first person in the house became ill.
Please read the guidance: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/coronavirus-covid-19-list-of-guidance.
A driver of a hackney carriage or private hire vehicle, hackney carriage and private hire vehicle proprietors and private hire operators, whether self-employed or employees, have responsibilities under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to both themselves and those who are likely to come into contact with their business (sections 2, 3 & 4).
Therefore, the driver and the proprietor of the vehicle both have a responsibility to ensure, to the best of their ability, that the vehicle is safe. Whilst that usually relates to mechanical safety, clearly environmental safety is also vital. You, as a company should already have a Health and Safety Policy in place. You should, where necessary, amend this to incorporate a risk assessment relating to the coronavirus as it clearly survives on surfaces for a significant period of time.
Ideally every vehicle should be disinfected after every hiring, but this is clearly not practically possible. However, it would be possible to ensure that some form of cleaning of obvious areas takes place - door handles, seat belts and buckles and any other obvious hard surface that may have been touched by a passenger. This would include areas that may have been infected following a passenger coughing or sneezing such as physical divisions between the front and rear of the vehicle, the rear of front seats and so on.
The guidance from the Government is "Frequently clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that are touched regularly, using your standard cleaning products" Please read the guidance: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/guidance-for-employers-and-businesses-on-coronavirus-covid-19.
In order to comply with Government guidance we are having to change the way we are processing licence applications and want to advise you of the current procedures, that will be subject to change as everything develops.
The Council have now closed all offices to the public, so we are unable to receive applications in person. All application paperwork can be submitted electronically by email, including the submission of documents for an Enhanced DBS check if required. Medical providers are unable to carry out Group 2 medicals at the moment, so we have relaxed the requirement for these to be provided for existing drivers. We will email you and explain what you will need to do when you are required to make an application or submit documentation. We will only be issuing the paper licence by email for drivers, we will not be issuing badges during this period but will provide an exemption letter and will require you still to wear your old badge. We have temporally suspended vehicle inspections, with the exception of new and replacement vehicles, and will only be issuing the paper licence by email for vehicles. Renewal applications will still need to be submitted by email. We will not be issuing plates during this period but will provide an exemption letter and will require that the old plate is still displayed.
You will still need to comply with the Governments requirements for MOT's and vehicle tax. The Government has advised it will extend any MOTs that were due from 30/03/2020 by 6 months - vehicles need to be kept in a roadworthy condition and drivers can be prosecuted if they drive an unsafe vehicle. Guidance on MOTs can be found at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-mots-for-cars-vans-and-motorcycles-due-from-30-march-2020.
All enquiries should be sent to email@example.com and applications submitted online.
The situation regarding financial help for those self-employed appears to be being considered by Government currently and you should look out for announcements in the coming days. Other financial help is available, visit GOV.uk sites for the latest information. We hope that you are staying safe during this time and can only thank you in advance for your co-operation with the changes we are having to make to keep the licensing service running and to support you being able to continue to work if you choose to do so. If you have any questions or concerns over this time please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In order to ensure that vehicles are safe and suitable for the purpose, the Council has set down minimum standards for vehicle specifications and regular mechanical inspections are carried out. Where a taximeter is fitted to the vehicle, this is also tested for accuracy. Checks are made to ensure that the appropriate insurance is in place and that vehicles have an MoT Test Certificate, where required.
The drivers of hackney carriages and private hire vehicles are also licensed by the Council. They are subject to a check with the Disclosure & Barring Service and Brentwood Borough Council requires them to undergo the same type of medical examination as HGV and bus drivers.
Please Note: It is an applicants responsibility to ensure that they meet all licence and pre-licence criteria prior to making any purchase of a vehicle. The Council can accept no responsibility should any vehicle submitted for licensing fail to meet these criteria.
Find out more about taxis and private hire vehicles:
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Driver Licences (including online application form)
- Vehicle Licences (including online application form)
- Miscellaneous Taxi Licensing Fee Online Payment Form
- Vehicle Inspection Payment Form
- Taxi ranks
- Taxi fares
- Best Practice Guidance
- Taxi Trade Consultative Group
If you have any queries regarding the licensing of hackney carriages and private hire vehicles, please email email@example.com or call 01277 312500.