THE coronavirus pandemic has forced the government to place unprecedented restrictions on the movement of Britons who are now being encouraged to stay home as much as possible.
Public transport is restricted to essential work travel and driving private cars, while not banned completely, is only allowed for food shopping and accessing healthcare. But what about taxis and ride-share apps like Uber? Here's everything we know about how you can travel.
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Are taxis allowed to operate during lockdown?
Yes, but you can only catch a cab if you're leaving your house for the four essential reasons outlined by the government:
- Travelling to and from work for key workers only
- Shopping for basic necessities, but as infrequently as possible
- Taking one form of exercise a day, alone or with members of your household
- Going to a medical appointment or providing care to a vulnerable person.
The rules restricting gatherings or more than two people outside the same household do not apply to passengers in vehicles.
The Government has classified businesses providing road passenger transport as critical in the fight coronavirus so taxi and Uber drivers are still allowed to work, but some companies have different policies so check if you're unsure.
Can I use ride hailing apps like Uber, Bolt, and Ola?
Yes, most ride hailing services are operating as normal but they are encouraging customers to only travel when absolutely necessary.
If you try to book an Uber, the app displays a warning message telling passengers to exercise caution to help limit the spread of coronavirus.
"We’re reminding everyone who uses Uber to follow advice from public health authorities," its website says.
"If you’re sick, stay home and away from others. Wash your hands frequently, and cover your cough or sneeze."
Uber suspended its 'pool' service, which allowed people to share rides with other passengers, to help stop the spread of the virus in mid-March.
It has also suspended the accounts of drivers who have coronavirus or have been exposed to the deadly bug.
Uber's ride-hailing competitor, Bolt, is also operating for essential travel only and says it is closely monitoring feedback from drivers and passengers who report witnessing coronavirus symptoms during a trip.
"We are in conversation with the relevant public health authorities and are ready to temporarily suspend the accounts of any drivers or riders who we have good reason to suspect present a health risk to others," its website says.
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Ola is also advising customers to only book cars for essential trips, travel solo if they can and says they have begun contact tracing of people with coronavirus.
"We’re working with health authorities to make sure all drivers and riders are notified if they have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19," Ola said in an email to customers.
Ola is also telling its drivers to keep cars clean follow government hygiene protocols.
How can drivers and passengers protect themselves?
If you do catch a cab, or book a ride-hail car like Uber, you should sit in the back seat to avoid contact with the driver and follow the NHS coronavirus guidelines:
- Use hand sanitiser or wash your hands with soap and water as soon as you get home
- Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing
In a cab, you should also choose contactless payments rather than cash if you can, and try and lift luggage yourself rather than let the driver help.
People with coronavirus symptoms should stay at home and never catch a cab or book a ride-hail trip.
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