It is important, now more than ever, that taxi and private hire drivers and passengers wear face coverings at all times when in taxi or private hire vehicles, unless they are exempt from doing so.
From 22 September 2020, it became a legal requirement for passengers travelling in taxi or private hire vehicles (PHVs) to wear a face covering for the duration of their journey.
Transport for London (TfL) Compliance Officers continue to carry out engagement and enforcement of this legal requirement across the transport network including taxi and private hire vehicles. There is also a role for licensees to play in helping to improve compliance, keeping themselves and their customers safe.
Guidance for managing a passenger not wearing a face covering
Some passengers could become frustrated or confrontational if you refuse to take them or you insist they wear a face covering before you start the journey. The following advice may help you in these circumstances:
Can a taxi or PHV driver refuse a job if a passenger refuses to wear a face covering?
The regulations enable taxi and private hire vehicle drivers to deny access to their services if a passenger is not wearing a face covering, or to direct them to wear one or leave a vehicle if they are not wearing a face covering. Drivers are reminded that some passengers may have an exemption to this regulation. These are set out by the Government here
Please be mindful and respectful of such circumstances, noting that some people are less able to wear face coverings, and that the reasons for this may not be visible to others. This includes (but is not limited to):
- Children under the age of 11 (Public Health England does not recommend face coverings for children under the age of 3 for health and safety reasons)
- People who cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability
- Where putting on, wearing or removing a face covering will cause you severe distress
- If you are speaking to or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expressions to communicate
- To avoid harm or injury, or the risk of harm or injury, to yourself or others ‒ including if it would negatively impact on your ability to exercise or participate in a strenuous activity
- Police officers and other emergency workers, given that this may interfere with their ability to serve the public
What if the passenger gets in the vehicle and then removes their face covering?
If a passenger has already entered the vehicle and then takes off their face covering, the driver should encourage the passenger to wear the face covering and remind them that it is a legal requirement. In most cases, passengers will comply. However, in the small number of cases where the passenger fails to comply with the driver’s encouragement and request, without a legitimate exemption, the driver has the option of asking the passenger to leave the vehicle. If TfL and/or the police identify a passenger not wearing a face covering – and they don’t have an exemption – they could receive a fixed penalty notice (£200 fine) for not complying with the regulations.
What if the passenger becomes aggressive?
If the passenger becomes aggressive or refuses to pay, then the driver should contact the police on 101 or 999 depending on the severity of aggression displayed. Please note that the driver cannot demand that the passenger remains in the vehicle until the police arrives.
The Government has provided guidance using a 6 step process for escalation which you should consider for these situations.
Does the passenger have to provide any evidence to show that they have an exemption?
Passengers do not have to provide any proof of an exemption.
Face covering exemption badges
There are some circumstances where people may not be able to wear a face covering. We ask that drivers be mindful and respectful of such circumstances. Some people may feel more comfortable showing something that says they do not have to wear a face covering. This could be in the form of an exemption card or badge, both of which are available from TfL: www.tfl.gov.uk/campaign/face-coverings
The Government also distributes face covering exemption cards (some of which can be displayed on a mobile phone) and badges, further details can be found on the gov.uk website.