The city’s licensing committee has this week made it mandatory that any passenger travelling in a Wolverhampton licensed hackney carriage or private hire vehicle must wear a face covering.
The new policy comes into force with immediate effect and is designed to protect both drivers and passengers from spreading Covid-19.
Drivers, who have also been advised to wear masks at all times when carrying passengers, have been authorised to refuse to pick up any passenger who is not wearing a face covering.
Any passengers travelling within a taxi must use a face covering unless they have a medical condition which prevents it.
Councillor Alan Bolshaw, chairman of City of Wolverhampton Council’s licensing committee, said: “We have listened to the calls from the taxi trade, both hackney carriages and private hire, for greater safety measures to protect them and their passengers during this time.
“We have decided to act to mandate the wearing of face coverings for all passengers and have advised drivers that they should also wear a covering on all journeys where they have passengers.
“We have gone over and above the Government guidance which is only advisory regarding passengers wearing masks. We are saying that it is compulsory to wear a mask as a passenger in a Wolverhampton taxi, you must wear one and if you don’t then drivers will be quite within their rights not to allow you into their vehicle.
“Our taxi drivers are key workers providing vital transport links for people and they have a right to feel safe as they go about their important work. Many of them have told us they have felt uneasy transporting passengers who do not always cover their faces in the enclosed environment of a taxi. Evidence suggests that taxi drivers are at a higher risk of infection than other groups.
“It is already mandatory to wear a mask on a bus or train and I think most passengers will accept that wearing a mask is the least they can do to keep each other safe during this pandemic and reduce the risk of spreading the virus.”
Any passenger who is unable to wear a mask or face covering for medical reasons will be expected to sit in the rear of the vehicle and as far away from the driver as possible.
The windows should, where practicable, be open for the entire journey to provide adequate ventilation.
On those occasions when a driver is asked to prove their identity to a passenger, the face covering may be temporarily removed.