FROM TODAY taxi drivers in Cambridge will be able to access new training and funding in a bid to help them and their passengers stay safe during the pandemic.
Local authorities in Cambridgeshire, including Cambridge City Council, have come together to tackle the risk of transmission of COVID-19 in taxis by creating a county-wide safety scheme.
This will provide taxi drivers with video training, explaining the necessary safety precautions required such as cleaning procedures, cashless payment and the use of masks, as well as providing a subsidy for fitting a quality standard screen within their vehicle.
To help taxi customers identify drivers who have undertaken the training and provide a screen in their vehicle, drivers will also be provided with a sticker to put on display on their vehicle.
This scheme will be rolled out throughout Cambridgeshire and more information of each local authority’s launch of the safety scheme, including Cambridge City Council’s, will be available on their respective websites.
Car sharing has been identified as a high risk for COVID-19 transmission as people from different households share a confined space for some time. Recent data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has identified taxi drivers as being in a higher risk occupation.
Cllr Gerri Bird, Chair of the Licensing Committee at Cambridge City Council, said: “Many people in Cambridge are currently relying on taxis as a mode of transport to carry out essential tasks such as getting to the shops or to health appointments. This reliance will increase now the vaccine is being rolled out and residents, especially the elderly and vulnerable, attend their GP surgery or a mass vaccination site to obtain their vaccination.
“Partition screens are now widely used in areas where social distancing is still possible, such as shops, and similar protection should therefore be provided in taxis, where maintaining a two-metre distance may not be possible. I am glad to see this new safety scheme and I hope that drivers, taxi firms and passengers really do get behind it.”
The video includes guidance such as on: asking passengers if they have any COVID-19 symptoms before entering the vehicle, hand sanitisation, social distancing where possible and opening vehicle windows for ventilation.
Dr Liz Robin, Director of Public Health at Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council, said: “I am delighted to support this initiative to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by safeguarding taxi and volunteer car scheme drivers and their passengers. Many of those who use taxis and voluntary car schemes will be at-risk people travelling to NHS services, including vaccination appointments, or for other essential reasons.
“Screens in cars add an additional layer to reduce the risk of transmission and the grant makes this more affordable. Please do take part in this scheme, it will provide reassurance to passengers, it could save someone’s life and can help protect livelihoods too.”
The safety scheme in Cambridge goes live on Friday 29 January and more information can be found on the council’s website: www.cambridge.gov.uk/coronavirus-safety-training-for-taxi-drivers Those looking to undertake the training will be transferred to the East Cambridgeshire District Council website as the county’s lead authority for the scheme.
It is hoped that this will subsequently be rolled out to voluntary car schemes in the very near future.