Most taxi drivers and passengers have stopped wearing face coverings since the pavement condition was dropped in February, recent polls show.
Wearing face coverings is no longer a condition of transport in taxi and private hire services since February 24, but drivers and customers are strongly recommended to wear them if they are able.
The UK’s largest transport regulator, Transport for London (TfL), has taken the decision to no longer require customers to wear face coverings as a condition of transport on its services from February 24, after taking into account a variety of factors, including the government’s change in approach to living with the virus and falling infection rates in London.
According to a snapshot poll by TaxiPoint, nearly nine in ten taxi drivers no longer continue to wear face masks for the majority of fares.
Peter Griffin, a taxi driver from Plymouth, continued to wear a covering to reduce the risk of transmission causing him to miss work. Griffin said: ‘Passengers say we have to wear a mask, always say no, it’s up to you. 90% then put one.
“I’m 65 and have had medical issues like most people at my age. Also, I don’t want to miss work, although I don’t work as hard as before. Stay safe everyone.
Frank Edwards also continues to wear one under contractual arrangements. Edwards said, “I have to wear one on school contracts.”
Many taxi drivers have given up on wearing a face covering unless passengers ask for it. Taxi driver Khalistan Manaf said: “No (I don’t wear a mask), unless the customer requests it or the trip is related to covid or obvious illnesses.”
What about score screens?
Another key announcement affecting the taxi and private hire industry included the continued use of divider screens which have become a popular safety addition during the peak of the covid pandemic.
TfL has told minicab drivers who have a temporary screen installed in their vehicle that they can continue to use them. A notice read: “Permit holders who have already installed an approved temporary screen in their vehicle may continue to use it.”
Taxi drivers Geoff Brayfield and Julie Boxall told TaxiPoint they kept their divider screens in place.
Southwest taxi driver David Roberts no longer wears a mask, but has also retained the use of a screen. Roberts said, “You’ve had a screen since 2020. All passengers sit in the back.”
What about passengers? Do they still wear them?
According to taxi drivers, and in my own experience, it’s a similar story for those traveling in the back of the taxi. The majority of taxi users no longer wear masks. TaxiPoint asked readers what proportion of taxi passengers still wear face coverings when traveling in their taxis. 88% of drivers said only one in four passengers still wears a blanket.