The taxi industry renews its call for a clearer and stronger message from the city on the transportation of people who have or may have COVID-19.
Kristine Hubbard, director of operations for Beck Taxi, said she continued to see people with symptoms of coronavirus taking a taxi or carpooling, ignoring public health advice for staying at home.
“I think that (the drivers) at least deserve explicit messages to people not to get into a taxi or a ride, hail a vehicle if you have symptoms,” she said.
“We have to hear that from the city because there is clearly confusion among the audience. “
Hubbard raised the issue for the first time in April after declaring it had discovered that the city had advised people in need of testing to use a booth as an option.
In response, city officials said they would work with taxi companies to develop COVID-19 protocols for taxi and carpool vehicles.
The city has also issued interim guidelines that include recommendations to help reduce the risk of exposure to the virus in cabins.
However, since then, Hubbard said little has changed as their drivers continue to report that customers are driving their taxis without revealing that they have COVID-19 or symptoms of the virus.
Hubbard said their drivers will not know the status of the customer until after they have been dropped off and called the company.
“We had one today that informed the driver (of their condition) in fact halfway through,” she said.
Hubbard said the city should ask center staff to ask those who test positive how they get home.
“We have to make sure we understand what needs to be done and that the drivers know what is going on,” she said.
“They are essential workers and they should be treated with the same kind of respect and transparency.”
Hubbard said the city should continually push the message to stop the spread of COVID-19.
City spokesman Brad Ross said they continue to have a discussion with Hubbard on the issue.
“When Ms. Hubbard first raised this issue in the media, the city, the mayor and the medical officer of health all provided clear information in a daily media update and encouraged anyone booking a taxi who suspected of, or about to have, COVID-19 tested for COVID-19 and disclosed it to the taxi company, “said Ross.
“They were also advised to wear a mask, get on their backs and open the windows.”
Wednesday, Uber announced that it will require Canadian drivers, messengers and passengers to wear masks starting May 18.