Stoke-on-Trent City Council is encouraging all licensed drivers in the city to take twice-weekly lateral flow tests to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
The council currently has eight private hire operators on-board with regular testing and are now widening it out to the Hackney Carriage trade.
Taxi drivers can walk into a community test centre and take a rapid result test or pre-book an appointment at www.stoke.gov.uk/bookacovid19test.
As a thank you for undertaking regular testing, taxi drivers will be offered a free licensed vehicle MOT at the council’s Cromer Road site if they are able to prove they have undertaken 10 lateral flow tests.
Shane Scragg, Transport Manager of Scraggs Coaches which has signed-up to the council’s testing programme, said: “We signed-up to protect our workforce, family members and the children we collect daily from our school runs. We are doing our part to stop the spread of coronavirus and to ensure anyone who is exposed or tested positive takes the necessary steps to ensure everyone's safety.”
Council leader Abi Brown said: “For peace of mind drivers should be getting tested regularly, just by the nature of their job they are in close contact with more people from outside their households or bubbles. Many taxi drivers have provided a vital service to residents during the pandemic, providing transport to key workers and transporting residents to hospital appointments and vaccination centres.”
Dr Paul Edmondson-Jones, director of adult social care, health integration and wellbeing, said: “We have worked hard to make testing accessible to all; there is no excuse whatever your job role may be to not get tested. Even if a driver has had the vaccine, they should still be getting tested regularly. The vaccine does not stop you spreading the virus onto others.”
Taxi drivers are reminded they should have steps in place to protect themselves and their passengers:
Washing your hands regularly or keep a sanitising gel in your taxi, so you can wipe your hands frequently.
Keep some windows open as often as possible to boost ventilation and dilute any potential hazard. Control the air conditioning to bring in fresh air and avoid recycling air within the vehicle.
Keep a 2m distance – so passengers should always sit in the back of your cab on the passenger side.
Let passengers handle their own bags and belongings whenever possible.
Store any personal waste, such as tissues and cleaning wipes in disposable rubbish bags. Each driver should ensure they use a new disposable rubbish bag each shift.
Use disinfectant wipes on seatbelts, door handles or any touched surface.
Accept card payments and pre-payments, so you’re handling cash as rarely as possible.