Banbury man questions taxis' social distancing

A Banbury man has expressed concern for passengers in taxis taking shoppers to and from supermarkets during the coronavirus emergency.
Bodicote House environmental health officers promote government coronavirus guidance with regard to public transportBodicote House environmental health officers promote government coronavirus guidance with regard to public transport
Bodicote House environmental health officers promote government coronavirus guidance with regard to public transport

Anthony Richards wrote to the Banbury Guardian after watching eight taxis disgorging shoppers at one of the out-of-town supermarkets.

"Last Tuesday my wife Lidia and I went to Tesco to do a food shop. No problems there, all was fine, but whilst my wife was in the store I remained in the car - her decision not mine I hasten to add, I have type 2 diabetes," he said.

"While waiting I noticed the number of taxis picking up and dropping off. They were the regular taxis seen in and around Banbury. I think there were about eight in total while I was there and only two wore masks. But what was of real concern to me was the fact that there was no way that either the passenger or the driver could keep to the recommended safe distance.

"Some sat in the front beside the driver but even those that in the back were still not far enough apart. Do the taxis have some sort of dispensation or will they put not only themselves but the passengers at risk of contracting the virus?"

A spokesman for Cherwell District Council, the authority responsible for issuing licences for taxis, said: “Taxis and other transport services such as buses have not been legally required to cease trading during the coronavirus pandemic so they can continue to collect and carry passengers.

"For some residents, travelling by taxi may be the only way to make essential trips to shop for basic necessities. While it is acknowledged that it is hard for taxi services to maintain social distancing, we should also recognise that there might be further knock-on problems for some residents if they were asked to stop trading.

"The council supports all national guidance on social distancing and infection prevention in the workplace. We encourage people to visit Gov.uk and read the guidance for staff in the transport sector.”

The guidance can be read here. It includes advice that passengers should wash their hands for 20 seconds before and after they have been on public transport and catch coughs and sneezes in tissues; frequently clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that are touched regularly, using standard cleaning products and that passengers should not travel if they are feeling unwell with symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) - a new, continuous cough or high temperature. This will also help to protect others from infection.