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Taxi and private hire vehicle (PHV) drivers are being asked to put measures in place to protect themselves and their passengers from coronavirus.

It is recommended that taxi and PHV drivers use a facial covering and also consider whether to install protective screens within their vehicles. The council supports the installation of such screens, provided they do not compromise public safety. Drivers wishing to install these should first seek advice from the Licensing team.

Passengers are also recommended to use a facial covering, carry a hand sanitiser and wash their hands before and after they travel to help reduce the rate of infection.

This follows new guidance issued by the Government to support local transport services and help residents who need to travel by public transport or taxis safely.

Reflecting these national messages, North Devon Council has set out the following advice for the public:

  • if you can work from home, please continue to do so
  • if you need to travel for work, please avoid public transport wherever possible
  • do not expect to return to the transport network you were used to before. The number of people who can be safely transported on buses and trains is severely constrained to enable social distancing
  • if you need to travel, please try to walk or cycle as much as possible, if you are able to
  • please shop locally and use local leisure facilities to help ease demand on roads and public transport
  • if using public transport, or taxi and PHVs, please use a facial covering, carry a hand sanitiser and wash your hands before and after you travel

The latest government advice is that, although face coverings are unlikely to prevent you from getting the virus, they could help prevent you from giving it to others. Face coverings are particularly important where two metre social distancing is hard to maintain.

Leader of North Devon Council, Councillor David Worden, says:  "Coronavirus has had a profound impact on public transport and will continue to do so long into the future.  Everyone will have to continue playing a part in reducing demand on services by working from home if they possibly can. Please avoid public transport wherever possible and when this is not possible, consider wearing a non-medical covering over your nose and mouth and carry a hand sanitiser to prevent the spread of this disease.

Face coverings are not a replacement for social distancing and regular hand washing, which remain the most important actions. The Government has urged the public not to buy medical grade masks, which should be reserved for front line health and care workers, and instead make their own face coverings at home.

Face coverings can help us protect each other and reduce the spread of the disease if you are suffering from coronavirus but not showing symptoms. People with coronavirus symptoms, as well as members of their household, should continue to follow the advice to self-isolate.

The Government's full safer travel guidance is available on their website.