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.

Applies to England

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

This guidance only applies in England.

The government has introduced new temporary measures in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) Omicron variant to slow its arrival and spread and to safeguard the NHS.

Face coverings are now mandatory in transport hubs and public transport, including taxis and private hire vehicles.

Passengers should plan ahead and ensure they understand and comply with the rules for the whole of their journey if they are crossing from England into one of the other UK nations. Operators should make themselves aware of the rules that could impact cross-border services and where possible inform passengers.

Check the guidance for the other UK nations:

Drivers

Carrying out a COVID-19 risk assessment – drivers

As a self-employed driver of a vehicle you should 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.

It is also recommended that you consider getting vaccinated, or have a booster, if you have not already done so. 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.

In the vehicle

COVID-19 spreads through the air by droplets and aerosols that are exhaled from the nose and mouth of an infected person.

Wearing a face covering can reduce the risk to others and yourself against the spread of infection because they cover the nose and mouth, which are the main confirmed sources of transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19 infection.

Passengers must wear face coverings when travelling in England in taxis and private hire vehicles, unless they are exempt or have a reasonable excuse. Guidance on exemptions can be found in the safer transport guidance for operators.

You must make sure that you communicate this information to passengers, either by:

  • displaying appropriate notices prominently in the vehicle, if this is permissible under any other licensing requirements
  • taking other appropriate measures to ensure that passengers are aware of this requirement, for example by reminding them when they enter the vehicle and making sure they understand the requirement fully

You are entitled to refuse a passenger if they are not wearing a face covering, unless they are exempt or have a reasonable excuse. Passengers do not need to provide evidence that they are exempt.

You must also not prevent any person from wearing a face covering or ask them to remove it, except where briefly required to verify a person’s identity.

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.

When wearing a face covering:

  • it is important to wash or sanitise your hands before and after touching your face covering
  • use a ‘black bag’ waste bin or litter bin to dispose of it – you should not put face coverings in a recycling bin or drop them as litter
  • be mindful that a face covering may inhibit communication with people who rely on lip reading, facial expressions and clear sound

Read separate guidance on making face coverings, exemptions cards and what to do if you cannot wear one.

Ventilation

Open windows when carrying passengers and/or use the vehicle’s vents to bring in fresh air from outside. You should not use the recirculated air option for the vehicle’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 and windows to ventilate the vehicle 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 symptoms of COVID-19, you should arrange to take a PCR test as soon as possible even if you’ve had one or more doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. You should stay at home until you get the result. You must self-isolate if you test positive.

Further information is found in the guidance to transport operators.

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.

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

PHV operators and taxi intermediaries

Carrying out a COVID-19 risk assessment – operators and intermediaries

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 workers 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
  • remind passengers of the requirement to wear a face covering, unless they are exempt or have a reasonable excuse
  • 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
  • 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.

Financial help for PHV operators and taxi intermediaries

Businesses and self-employed drivers may be eligible for financial support schemes. Find out what financial support schemes you may be eligible for.

Published 18 November 2020
Last updated 1 December 2021 + show all updates
  1. You must wear a face covering when travelling in taxis and private hire vehicles in England, unless you are exempt or have a reasonable excuse.

  2. Changes to rules on face coverings and social distancing to reflect Step 4 of roadmap out of lockdown.

  3. Update to reflect roadmap out of lockdown.

  4. Travel restrictions update to reflect roadmap out of lockdown.

  5. Updated risk assessment guidance for drivers considering installing a safety screen in their vehicle.

  6. Added updated translations.

  7. National lockdown information added.

  8. Added translations in Arabic, Bangla, Welsh, Hindi, Punjabi, Polish, Pashto, Romanian, Somali, Turkish, Urdu and Chinese.

  9. Tier 4 local restriction information added.

  10. Updated Christmas travel guidance.

  11. Local restriction tiers information updated.

  12. Local restriction tiers information added.

  13. First published.