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Coronavirus Updates (Taxis)

Last updated on 24 May 2021

How Licensing will work during the coronavirus pandemic

Contact Licensing

To contact Licensing via the phone while our office is closed, please call 01744 676770.

Alternatively, you can contact us via email: Taxi Licensing email

Please be aware the phones will be busy and we would advise you to email us.

This is because our telephone lines are very busy and we can respond to you much faster by email. Please note that we aim to answer your email on the same working day or the next available working day.

Operational Hours

From Monday 30 March 2020, our operational hours are 9am to 5pm. Please use our general licensing and taxi licensing emails first as we don't have as many phone lines as usual.

We can answer your queries much faster on email.

Don't forget to let us know about any problems you may be experiencing and we'll do our best to help.

Taxi Information

How to Access Help and Support

Actions that drivers and operators can take to prevent against coronavirus

Information for those who are self-employed

Understanding how to claim Universal Credit

Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS)

Financial Support for Businesses

Guidance on social distancing

Taxi drivers warned to avoid loan sharks during coronavirus pandemic

Help and Support if Your Business is Affected by Coronavirus

Guidance: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Taxis and PHVs

Actions that drivers, operators and owners of taxis or private hire vehicles (PHVs) can take to protect against coronavirus.

Aside from the driver, a passenger should avoid sharing a taxi or private hire vehicle (PHV) with someone from outside their household or support bubble unless their journey is undertaken for an exempt reason. For example, if sharing the vehicle is reasonably necessary as part of a passenger’s work, you do not have to refuse to carry them.

Passengers must adhere to social contact rules when travelling by taxi or PHV, including only gathering to travel in groups of no more than 6, or 2 households, aside from the driver, unless they are travelling for a reason that is exempt.

Follow this guidance even if you have been vaccinated. You could still spread COVID-19 to others.

This guidance only applies in England. Check the guidance for the other UK nations:

Drivers

As a self-employed driver of a vehicle you must conduct a risk assessment to understand the risks and what you can do about them. You should think about how you work and ways you can protect yourself and your passengers.

Regular testing is recommended as part of your risk assessment. Everyone in England can now receive regular tests and as a vehicle driver who comes into contact with members of the public you should consider getting tested regularly. Follow the guidance regarding testing.

If you have not already been vaccinated it is also recommended that you consider getting vaccinated when you are invited. Information about vaccines is available from the NHS.

As a driver, you do not have to write anything down about your risk assessment.

As part of the risk assessment you undertake, you may decide you want to install a safety screen behind the front row seats to separate yourself from the passengers in the rear of the vehicle. The decision on whether to use a screen rests with you and the local licensing authority. If you decide to fit one, guidance on how to choose and fit a screen safely in a vehicle is available.

NHS COVID-19 App

To help control the spread of COVID-19, drivers should download and use the NHS COVID-19 app.

Picking up Passengers

Before a passenger enters your vehicle, you should ask if they have:

  • coronavirus symptoms – a fever, new cough or loss of smell or taste
  • had a positive coronavirus test in the last 10 days

You should refuse service if they have.

You should wash or sanitise your hands if you come into contact with a passenger or their luggage. You should do this before and after contact.

You must continue to provide support to disabled passengers to safely enter and exit your vehicle. You must continue to assist disabled passengers with their luggage and mobility equipment.

Show passengers your face while socially distancing so that they can identify you as their driver.

Passengers should check guidance on travel and restrictions on social distancing that apply to their journey.

To help control the spread of the virus, you should remind passengers of the rules on social contact in place, but you do not have to refuse to carry them.

In the Vehicle

Passengers must wear a face covering in a taxi or PHV, unless they are exempt. You can refuse to take a passenger if they are not wearing a face covering and they are not exempt. Passengers do not have to provide proof that they are exempt.

You do not have to wear a face covering, but we recommend that you do if it does not affect your ability to drive safely. Your licensing authority or operator may ask you to wear a face covering. You should follow their guidance if it does not affect your ability to drive safely.

You may need to remove your face covering in order to communicate with passengers who are deaf or hard of hearing.

You should ask passengers to sit as far from you as possible or put a mark where you would like them to sit. Where possible they should not sit in the front of the vehicle.

Open windows when carrying passengers and/or use the car’s vents to bring in fresh air from outside. You should not use the recirculated air option for the car’s ventilation system when carrying passengers.

End of Journey - Leaving the Vehicle

Take contactless payment if you can.

If not, you should wash your hands with soap and water or sanitiser after handling money.

You should remind passengers to wash or sanitise their hands after the journey.

Preparing your Vehicle for the Next Passenger

When a person infected with COVID-19 coughs, talks or breathes, they release droplets and aerosols which can be breathed in by another person. While larger droplets fall quickly to the ground, smaller droplets and aerosols containing the virus that causes COVID-19 can remain suspended in the air for some time indoors, especially if there is no ventilation.

Ventilation is the process of replacing this shared air with fresh air from the outside. The more ventilated an area is, the more fresh air there is to breathe, and the less likely a person is to inhale infectious particles.

Surfaces and belongings can also be contaminated with COVID-19, when people who are infected cough or sneeze near them or if they touch them.

Between every journey you should:

  • clean those parts of your vehicle that you or passengers may have touched, for example, door handles, payment devices, protective screens, buttons, seats
  • open doors / windows to ventilate the car for 5 minutes
  • wash your hands for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser

If you have Coronavirus Symptoms or have been told to self-isolate

You should not work if you have coronavirus symptoms or you have been told to self-isolate. If you have coronavirus symptoms you should get a test as soon as possible. You should stay at home until you get the result.

Financial Help for Drivers

If you are told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace, you may be entitled to a payment of £500 from your local council under the Test and Trace Support Payment scheme.

Self-employed drivers may also be eligible for:

If you are clinically extremely vulnerable and have received a formal shielding notification, you are entitled to either Statutory Sick Pay or Employment Support Allowance.

Read more about Coronavirus (COVID-19): what to do if you’re self-employed and getting less work or no work.

PHV Operators & Taxi Intermediaries

Carrying out a COVID-19 Risk Assessment

PHV operators and taxi intermediaries that are employers must carry out a risk assessment in line with government guidance.

If you have fewer than 5 employees including non-drivers (dispatchers, booking agents etc), you don’t have to write anything down as part of your risk assessment.

Providing Health Information to Drivers and Passengers

You should provide health information to drivers and passengers through your smartphone apps, text message and displaying posters within operating centres. You should also:

  • encourage the drivers you work with to read the drivers guidance
  • display posters to remind drivers and passengers of hygiene good practice– stickers or notices used in the vehicle should not reduce the driver’s view through the windscreen and front windows, or their view of mirrors
  • share messages to encourage drivers and passengers to download and use the NHS COVID-19 app
  • make clear to passengers that unless they are exempt, they must wear a face covering at all times when in the vehicle
  • remind passengers to wash their hands for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser before entering the vehicle

Drivers do not have to wear a face covering, but we recommend that they do if it does not affect their ability to drive safely.

Ride-sharing or pooled ride services should not be provided online or at taxi ranks.

Financial Help for PHV Operators and Taxi Intermediaries

Businesses and self-employed drivers may be eligible for:

Find out what financial support schemes you may be eligible for

Office Arrangements From Monday 18th January 2021

We wanted to make you aware of a change to our current working arrangements due to the high levels of COVID-19 across the country. From Monday 18th January we will no longer have any of the small resource we currently have, working from Wesley House. This should not affect you too much; however if you post documents to us then it is likely to be some days before they are collected as we intend to only have this collected once or twice a week.

Unless we request you to do so otherwise, you should continue to scan or photograph your documents to us and send by email. This is the quickest way that we can process your information. Taxi plates will continue to be posted out to you, but please make sure that you book your test in good time of your licence expiry to allow for postage. We would advise that you allow 7 days.

If you need to contact us, the fastest way to do this is via email. This is monitored constantly during working hours. Our telephone calls are still being dealt with by the contact centre and you are more likely to experience a delay if you use this method.

Guidance on Passengers Wearing Face Coverings in Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicles

With effect from 23 September 2020, Hackney Carriages and Private Hire Vehicles have been classed as 'public transport' for the purposes of the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Wearing of Face Coverings on Public Transport) (England) Regulations 2020.

This means that all passengers aged 11 or over must wear a face covering in a Hackney Carriage or Private Hire Vehicle (unless the passenger has a 'reasonable excuse' not to do so) but this requirement does not apply to the driver of the Hackney Carriage or Private Hire Vehicle.

Please view this document for full information on the legal requirement for passengers to wear face coverings in Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicles.

Return of Taxi Compliance Tests

The taxi compliance test system is now live and tests resumed on Monday 21 September 2020. Test are available all day Monday to Friday and should be booked in the normal manner via the portal.

The same date will be when we officially start the 'first test' of the year, so if you pass your compliance test first time then you will be entitled to a 12-month licence.

Additional COVID-19 Procedures

You should present your licensed vehicle for test, retest or safety check at least 30 minutes before your appointment. This is important as it is part of the council's COVID risk assessment, where all vehicles will be cleaned inside by use of a treatment which will disinfect the vehicle. This is carried out by the use of a 'fogging machine'. The vehicle is then allowed to air before the test starts.

All vehicles will be dropped off at the security office at Hardshaw Brook Depot, which is at the main gate. You will not be allowed access to the site or to remain on the site, and you should return to collect your vehicle promptly at the same place at the end time of your test. Your keys and vehicle can be collected from the security office at the gate.

If you do not bring your vehicle 30 minutes before the test, it will be cancelled and there will be no refund of fees.

When you are delivering and collecting your licensed vehicle, please wear a face covering.

If you have any questions about the tests or the 'fogging' procedure, please email the Contract Manager for Transport.

Private MOT Cut Off Period

Any vehicle that expires on or after Monday 21 September 2020 will be required to go for a compliance test at Hardshaw Brook Depot. For any vehicle that expires on or before Sunday 20 September 2020, a private MOT will be accepted provided that it is not dated after Sunday 20 September 2020.

Any private MOT certificates that are dated after Sunday 20 September 2020 will not be accepted. 

Coronavirus Signage & Information For Operator Bases

Below you can find information posters written in different languages so people who don't speak English as their first language can keep up to date with the latest coronavirus information. The posters are available in the following languages: Urdu, Tamil, Kurdish Sorani, Arabic, Farsi.

Please display these posters in a prominent place in your operator base.

Information for Private Hire Operators and Hackney Drivers on Face Masks

As a Private Hire Operator or Hackney Carriage Driver you have the right to refuse a booking if those requesting the service refuse to wear a mask or face covering during the journey. However, if you are planning to do this, you must make this clear to all those who use your services and ensure that your drivers are adhering to the same policy.

Guidance from Guide Dogs for the Blind

Information for taxi drivers and operators from Guide Dogs for the Blind on assisting passengers with visual impairments during the coronavirus pandemic.

Important Information for Those Using Taxis

You should wear a face covering when using taxis or private hire vehicles. A taxi driver may be entitled to refuse to accept you if you are not wearing a face covering.

Keep a two-metre distance from others during your journey, for example at taxi ranks. If you need to be near other people you should:

  • Avoid physical contact
  • Try to face away from other people
  • Keep the time you spend near other people as short as possible

Follow the advice of the driver. For example, you may be asked to sit in the back left-hand seat if travelling alone. You may want to check with your taxi or private hire operator before travelling if they have put any additional measures in place.

You should use contactless payment if possible, or find out if you can pay online in advance.

Be aware of the surfaces you touch. Be careful not to touch your face. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or the inside of your elbow when coughing or sneezing.

When finishing your journey wash your hands for at least 20 seconds or sanitise your hands as soon as possible.

Testing for COVID-19

It has now been established that taxi drivers can be classed as part of the transport network and, as such, can self-refer for a test should you experience any symptoms.

Here is the link to the government portal should you need this.

Please sign in using the link entitled 'essential workers' and, when you are asked, please select the box for 'transport'.

New Government Guidance for Taxi Operators, Drivers and Vehicle Proprietors

The government have released guidance to assist with your work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Public Information

All our licensed drivers are self employed and the operators are small businesses. Please support them in any way you can during this crisis. 

Our drivers are still out working and are taking the government advice into account while operating, including cleaning the interior of the vehicle and safe distancing on the number of passengers they carry. They can help you collect prescription medication or food, take you to a medical appointment etc. They are ready and waiting to support you.

Hackney Carriage Ranks

List of our current Hackney Carriage ranks

Please note that social distancing measures have been applied to the Hall Street and Ormskirk Street ranks, which are our busiest. Please queue in an orderly manner and observe the social distancing measures by keeping two metres apart.

To book a Hackney Carriage, please use the following contact numbers:

01744 608844 - C&R Travel

01744 778277 - Taxi Call

01744 644644 - Halo Taxis

01744 22222 - A1 Taxis

07930 251689 - Wilshaw Travel

All of our Hackney Carriages are wheelchair friendly and our drivers are trained to assist you.

Hackney Carriages are working in a different climate they may not be in the places you would usually find them. They may be stopping along the general road side but if the 'for hire' light is on, on the top of the vehicle they are available for hire.

Operator Bases

If you still have bases open, you should be following government guidance on social distancing. It is also advisable that all your surfaces are wiped down using anti-bacterial spray regularly throughout the day.

The following operators are still available for hire:

A to B Delta - 01744 451451 (Discounts available for NHS and key workers)

Britannia Cars - 01744 20022 (Discounts available for NHS and key workers)

Cable Cars - 01744 609060 (Discounts available for NHS and key workers)

Critchley's Cars - 01744 819999

Clear Executive Travel - 01925 321666

Uber - 'Tap the App'

Delta Merseyside - 'Tap the App'

Lingholme Travel - 01744 607835

Receipt of Jobs

As its important that the drivers are protected as much as is possible during this crisis we recommend the following:

  • Before any booking is taken, check if any members of the household are self-isolating due to coronavirus being present in the home. If they are, as these people should not be leaving their homes then you are not expected to accept these jobs.
  • You may wish to limit the number of passengers and not allow any passenger to sit in the front seat.
  • Operators should make their drivers aware that you are checking the locations of jobs for the coronavirus, before they are added to systems.
  • No drivers are required to put themselves into situations which they feel would be harmful to them.
  • Vehicle cleanliness is also important. It is crucial that drivers are given advice to wipe down with anti-bacterial spray the interiors of their vehicle as often as possible, or at least after they have completed a shift. You will be aware that the virus can live on surfaces for long periods of time so this is important in keeping everyone safe.
  • If you operate a service which allows patrons to pay online or by card, this should be used in the first instance to limit the exposure to cash changing hands.
  • Drivers are allowed to wear gloves if they feel this is necessary. Please be aware that if you use disposable gloves then these should be changed and disposed of regularly.

You will be aware that we have already approved the use of face masks for drivers during this period.

Private Hire Vehicle Screens

The Local Government Association have now produced guidance for councils on vehicle screens.

St Helens Licensing Authority have not approved the blanket use of such screens.

The main concerns are:

  • the integrity of the vehicle
  • the lack of a specification for each specific model of vehicle
  • no manufacturer approval
  • potential compromise of insurance
  • increase of surface area for the virus to live on
  • safeguarding issues due to lack of visibility

We are aware that some operators from across the region have already installed such features. Whilst- we are sympathetic to the need, the screens are not a proven method of protection from COVID19 and do not form part of existing conditions.

Should a driver or vehicle proprietor be considering installing such screens, you should contact the Licensing Authority before any screen is installed.

The installation of such screens is an unauthorised or tested vehicle modification. We will however consider any application seriously which meets the following criteria.

  • Evidence that a product is compliant with government and industry regulations, for example the Road Vehicle (Construction and Use) Regulations and relevant safety, UK and European Community (EC) legislation. 
  • Evidence that the product has been tested to relevant EU standards and approved by appropriate certification organisation.
  • Directions about how screens should be fitted, for example by a professional in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and specification. 
  • Specification of what screens should be constructed of, for example PETG (Polyethylene Terephthalate Glycol-modified) or poly-carbonate.
  • That screens do not impede the driver’s vision, movement, or communication with passengers, or the driver, passenger access or egress to the vehicle or vehicle safety devices. 
  • Confirmation that your insurer has authorised such installation insurers should be notified of any modifications made to the vehicle and that the policy has been updated.
  • Confirmation from the manufacturer that the installation does not compromise the integrity of the vehicle’s structure and safety features. 

Prior to installing a screen, drivers should be encouraged to contact the licensing authority to check that they will permit the installation and ensure that the screen and installation will meet their requirements.

Should the appropriate test be met, the Licensing Authority will consider the application however there will be no material change to conditions and the Licensing Authority will accept no liability for said PHV Screen.

Business/Self-employed Support

We are updating our taxi and business news feeds regularly with information on how to access grants and support for small business along with information on how to access self employment support. If you need any help with this or would like further information, then please email us and we will sort this for you.

Media Articles

Our media team are working regularly on articles both in the press and on social media around businesses that are still working or going above and beyond. We'd like to share some stories of what you have been doing to help generate some extra PR for you, so again please send these through to our email. With every post we make we are linking the page from the website displaying your operator numbers and those of the hackney trade to help support your business.

Discounts

We've noticed that some of you are offering discounts for NHS and/or keyworkers. We are about to launch a promotion around this so, to be sure we don't miss anyone out, can you email us if you are offering this new service. This applies to Private Hire Operators and Hackney Carriages.

Vulnerable Community Members

No doubt you are seeing first hand some of the most vulnerable members of society and as a council we are trying to support them as much as possible, if you could pass on the information. There is help available but we need to know where they are to get this to them.

Changes to taxi licensing for existing licensed drivers, operators and vehicle proprietors

Taxi medicals

We are aware that GPs are not operating normal medical services during the coronavirus pandemic. If you are an existing licensed hackney carriage/private hire driver with us and are due a medical, please contact us urgently, if you have not already done so. 

In the event that existing drivers are unable to obtain a medical, provision is in place to permit you to continue to work providing that (a) you have a previous 'clear' medical history, and (b) you will be required to sign a declaration which confirms that you have no newly diagnosed medical conditions which could affect your ability to drive. These licences will be approved for a period of 12 months. 

DBS (Disclosure Barring Service) checks

The DBS service is operating as normal. If you are due for this check, please contact us as soon as possible so that we are able to organise this for you. During this pandemic, the DBS service have confirmed we are able to accept a scan of your documents, which you can send via email. This will limit the need for face to face appointments. 

We will post out the DBS application so that you are able to complete this and return it to us via the post box outside Wesley House reception. You may also post these back to us at our usual address.

Licence renewals

We are no longer carrying out face-to-face appointments as the council has decided to close its main reception areas. This means that licence renewals will be conducted by email or post.

We have also advised Merseyside Police as it is likely that some licensed vehicles will be displaying out-of-date plates for a period of time. You will not be penalised for this as long as you have the licence documents we have provided to you electronically or by post. All driver and operator licences are currently being renewed for a maximum of 12 months.

New and renewal vehicle applications

New and renewal vehicle applications will be required to send all vehicle renewals to our email (insurance, completed application form, etc). We will then return your licences to you by email. 

We will no longer issue physical plates during the coronavirus pandemic after Friday 20 March 2020. During this period, you will maintain the same vehicle licence number so that if the plate you are displaying has expired, the licence number trail will remain unchanged.

For those bringing new vehicles to licence, you will not be provided with a physical plate to display. You must have your licence information with you in your vehicle so that you can show this to a police or authorised officer, should you be stopped.