COVID-19: law and licensing updates

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Taxi/private hire licence holders and operators

The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 which put measures in place to help prevent the spread of Covid-19, have been repealed.

This means that it is no longer a legal requirement to follow the restrictions put in place by the regulations. However, as Covid-19 still remains a public health concern, the regulations have been replaced by public health advice.

Further information is on the Scottish Government website. Please ensure that all licence holders follow the up to date government advice.

Updated guidance for holders of taxi and private hire licences

This Notice provides updated advice and guidance for taxi and private hire cars (PHC) licensees following recent Government announcements

Stay at Home Guidance

Stay at Home Guidance is subject to change. Please therefore refer to the up to date guidance from NHS Inform.

At the time of publishing individuals who have symptoms of possible COVID-19 (the most common of which are fever, new cough, or loss of smell and/or taste), who’ve had a positive result from either a lateral flow device test (LFD) or polymerase chain reaction test (LFD), or who have been told to self-isolate because they are a close contact of a positive case, should self-isolate. 

Drivers must stop work immediately. 

If symptomatic the driver must seek a test as soon as symptoms appear. 

The driver must not return to work until after the end of the isolation period.

If you've had a positive PCR or LFD test result but no symptoms, you should self-isolate for 10 days from the date of your test.

Once you've completed your 10 days of self-isolation or received 2 negative LFD results 24 hours apart, from day 6 onward

s, as long as you feel better and do not have a high temperature you can return to work (regardless of your LFD result).Please visit NHS Inform website for up to date information and guidance. .

Safer workplaces and public settings guidance

The Scottish Government has produced guidance aimed at those who are managing a workplace, organisation or premises, including transport operators. The guidance strongly recommends that appropriate protective measures, such as wearing face coverings where appropriate, are maintained. It also recommends adaptations to operations and workplace practices, which have been identified by risk assessment.

For more information visit gov.scot.

Use of partitions or screens

Partitions or safety screens provide a physical barrier between drivers and passengers in the vehicle. They are commonly installed as a safety feature to help protect the driver from physical attacks or theft. There has been an increase in the use of screens as a way of providing physical separation between drivers and passengers in order to reduce the transmission of COVID-19.

Partitions in taxis or PHCs do not provide a fully sealed compartment which completely separates the driver from the passenger. Therefore, whilst it is possible that partitions may reduce the risk of transmission of infection, the risk would not be eliminated entirely.

If an operator wants to fit a protective screen to the licensed car, the operator must contact their local licensing authority to advise that he/she has plans to do this.

There must be proof that the relevant insurer has been contacted and that the insurer has confirmed that the necessary insurance would be unaffected by the proposed installation of the screen.

The licensing authority may consider this to be a material change to the vehicle of which they require to be notified formally in terms of Paragraph 9 of Schedule 1 to the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982.

If formal notification is required, a fee may have to be paid to the licensing authority to process the notification, which would also involve consultation with Police Scotland regarding the proposed change(s) to the vehicle. In any event, if a screen is fitted, the operator must ensure that it is fitted safely and securely. In addition, it-

  • Must comply with the Road Vehicle (Construction and Use) Regulations.
  • Must not be permanently installed in the vehicle
  • Must be fitted in such a way to not affect the structural integrity of the vehicle, or interfere with any manufacturer fitted safety equipment e.g. airbags
  • Must not wrap around the driver seat and create a partition between the two front seats, in addition to the rear cabin area.
  • The partition used MUST be clear and transparent and can ONLY be fitted across the rear of both front seats, creating a partition between the front and rear cabin area of the vehicle
  • Any screen must be tested to the relevant EU standard for an original equipment type approval test covering interior fittings
  • The screen must be approved by MIRA or other comparable independent product engineering, testing, consultancy and certification organisation.
  • Screens should be constructed of PETG or polycarbonate
  • The screen should not impede the driver’s vision, movement, or communication with passengers
  • The screen should not impede driver or passenger access or egress to the vehicle 

Consideration should also be given to ensure that:

  • Screens must be professionally and securely fitted in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Certification from the vehicle’s manufacturer should be sought to confirm that the screen does not compromise the integrity of the vehicle structure
  • Insurers should be notified of any modifications made to the vehicle 

Wheelchairs and passenger assistance

When preparing risks assessments and operating, Taxi and Private Hire drivers and operators are reminded of the anti-discrimination provisions of the Equality Act 2010. In particular section 165 which sets out the duties imposed on the driver of a taxi or private hire vehicle designated for the carriage of passengers with disabilities including:

  1. to carry the passenger while in the wheelchair,
  2. not to make any additional charge for doing so,
  3. if the passenger chooses to sit in a passenger seat, to carry the wheelchair,
  4. to take such steps as are necessary to ensure that the passenger is carried in safety and reasonable comfort,
  5. to give the passenger such mobility assistance as is reasonably required

 Failure to comply with Section 165 is generally an offence, unless it would not have been possible for the wheelchair user to be carried safely in the designated vehicle.


Licences for Renewal

The Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 includes some temporary measures affecting the taxi and private hire licensing processes. These include allowing the Council to accept a licence renewal application late “on good cause shown” for up to three months after the expiry of the licence.

If your renewal application is accepted late within the three month period your licence will remain in force during this time. However, although a licence is renewed late its expiry date will be the same as if the renewal application had not been made late. That is, the licensee will not benefit from a longer licence period as a result of the delay.

As part of this you will have to complete a “on good cause shown” form” (late form) outlining the reasons for the application being late, but this does not involve an extra fee.

Please note, this special measure is expected to end on 30 September 2022.

If you are having difficulty in relation to completing your application, please contact the business support team as soon as possible.