Shut up and wear a mask: How to survive a taxi ride during a health crisis


  • Living
  • Friday, 17 Apr 2020

Health officials in a number of countries are calling on all people to wear masks whenever they're in a public place. This goes for taxi drivers, too.

If you live in a big city, you probably aren't too keen on using public transport at the moment – all those potential coronavirus carriers entering your sacred 2m circle of social distancing.

If cycling or driving isn't an option, the alternative is to get a taxi. To minimise risk, there are a few things experts say you need to watch out for when getting around by cab in the midst of a pandemic.

Take a back seat

US health officials are advising passengers to always take a seat in the back, diagonally opposite the driver, to keep a maximum distance.

It's also not a good idea to travel with strangers in the car, if this is an option. Sharing services such as Uber have stopped offering their more affordable pooled rides, advising that people should travel alone or with household members only.

To add extra distance, taxi drivers in some countries have kitted their cars out with see-through partition walls – a familiar sight for anyone who's been in a London black cab.

To add extra distance, taxi drivers in some countries are kitting their cars out with see-through partition walls.To add extra distance, taxi drivers in some countries are kitting their cars out with see-through partition walls.

Shut up

Europe's largest automobile club is advising passengers not to talk during a taxi ride. "Keep silent if possible, and avoid having a lively conversation," says the official advice of Germany's ADAC car club. It's hoped this will reduce the risk of the virus, if present, being spread around the interior of the car.

Wear a mask

Health officials in a number of countries are calling on all people to wear masks whenever they're in a public place, as anyone can carry and spread the Sars-Cov-2 virus without showing symptoms.

What if your driver isn't wearing a mask? As there is a risk he or she has the virus and doesn't know it, it's only right to ask if they can put on a mask – but be friendly about it, say the road safety folks from ADAC. Your taxi driver will already be stressed by having to carry out a high-risk job every day.

Pay without touching

If you haven't done so already, now is the time to check if you can "contactlessly" pay with your card or smartphone.

Both you and the taxi driver will be reluctant to have to resort to paying in cash, but if this high-tech payment approach isn't an option, consider rounding up enough so you can just hand them a banknote without them having to give you change.

Clean your hands before and after

Finally, here comes the one piece of advice we can't hear often enough. Thorough handwashing or disinfecting, both before and after the trip, will help keep both you and the driver safe. Bring a bottle of disinfectant with you if you can't. – dpa

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Covid-19 , pandemic , public transportation

   

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