Business support and advice
Support and advice for businesses affected by COVID-19.

Taxi and private hire vehicles


This page was updated on the 6 January 2021

National Lockdown - Stay at Home

An amendment to The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (All Tiers) (England) Regulations 2020 came into force on the 6 January, they impose closures and restrictions upon a number of businesses and activities (also known as National Lockdown 3). As the Council understands the new legislation and is offered advice by Government these page will be subject to change. Preston is currently under Tier 4 Restrictions - Stay at Home.

If you live in Tier 4 you must not leave or be outside of your home or garden except where you have a 'reasonable excuse'.

For guidance regarding the wider community restrictions please visit our FAQ pages.

What guidance has been published for the taxi and private hire vehicle sector?

The Government has published transport guidance on the safe provision of transport services during the Covid-19 pandemic. There are separate guidance documents for transport providers and for passengers. Both guidance documents cover all modes.

The guidance sets out government recommendations on who should be travelling and under what circumstances, and how social distancing rules should be interpreted.It also includes information about cleaning practices.

Licensing Services has also produced a basic guide for Taxi drivers and operators during Covid-19.

View the basic guide for Taxi drivers and operators during Covid-19

Face Coverings


Face coverings are not mandatory for drivers. However where there is no screen between a driver and passengers then we would encourage all drivers to wear a face covering when they have passengers in their vehicle.

The evidence suggests that wearing a face covering does not protect you, but it may protect others if you are infected but have not yet developed symptoms.  This is most relevant for short periods indoors in crowded areas (Such as a vehicle).

You should follow safe guidance for wearing a face covering, please visit the How to Wear a Face Covering Advice.

When wearing a face covering you should:

  • wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser before putting a face covering on
  • avoid wearing on your neck or forehead
  • avoid touching the part of the face covering in contact with your mouth and nose, as it could be contaminated with the virus
  • change the face covering if it becomes damp or if you've touched it
  • avoid taking it off and putting it back on a lot in quick succession (for example, when leaving and entering shops on a high street)

When removing a face covering

  • wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser before removing
  • only handle the straps, ties or clips
  • do not give it to someone else to use
  • if single-use, dispose of it carefully in a residual waste bin and do not recycle
  • if reusable, wash it in line with manufacturer's instructions at the highest temperature appropriate for the fabric
  • wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser once removed


  • You may need to remove your face covering in order to communicate with passengers who are deaf or hard of hearing
  • You should not wear a face coverings if it affects your ability to drive


It is a legal requirement that members of the public wear a face covering in Private Hire and Hackney Vehicles. They must put it on before they enter a vehicle and leave it on until they leave the vehicle.  

There are some circumstances where people may not be able to wear a face covering.

Please be mindful and respectful of such circumstances, noting that some people are less able to wear face coverings, and that the reasons for this may not be visible to others.

This includes (but is not limited to)

  • children under the age of 11 (Public Health England does not recommend face coverings for children under the age of 3 for health and safety reasons)
  • people who cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability
  • where putting on, wearing or removing a face covering will cause you severe distress
  • if you are speaking to or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expressions to communicate
  • to avoid harm or injury, or the risk of harm or injury, to yourself or others ‒ including if it would negatively impact on your ability to exercise or participate in a strenuous activity

Can a taxi or private hire vehicle driver refuse to admit a passenger who is not wearing a face covering?

Taxi and private hire vehicle drivers are advised to make an assessment of risk as outlined in the transport operator guidance.

The acceptance of a booking request by a private hire vehicle operator is a decision made based on the operator's own assessment of risk. Any requirements for face coverings should be made clear to the passenger before the operator accepts the booking.

Taxi drivers can use this assessment to determine whether or not it is reasonable to admit a passenger who is not wearing a face covering, considering other mitigation's they put in place from their risk assessment. You can refuse to take a passenger if they are not wearing a face covering and they are not exempt.

This does not however absolve drivers of their duties under the Equality Act 2010.

Face covering resources from the DfT.

Should protective barriers be installed between drivers and passengers?

The installation of protective barriers is a decision for private hire vehicle operators and firm or individual operating the vehicle to make based on their own assessment of risk. ]

You may also wish to consider:

  • Eliminating the use of face-to-face passenger seating
  • Use of ventilation
  • Reducing occupancy to individual passengers in the back left-hand seat for vehicles that do not enable 2 metre separation; considering reducing occupancy in a larger vehicle

It is the Council's position that the decision to install a temporary safety screen during the current pandemic is a matter for vehicle owners, drivers and operators;

  • The temporary installation of safety screens will not affect the vehicle compliance certificate;
  • The Council will not accept liability in circumstances in which a screen causes injury to a passenger or driver;

Where possible you should ascertain that the product is compliant with any industry regulations such as the Road Vehicle (Construction and Use) Regulations and obtain evidence that the product has been tested to relevant EU standards

Any screens fitted must:

  • Not interfere with or compromise any operating or safety features in the vehicle (including airbags, handbrake, gearstick) or the vehicle type approval;
  • Not be made of materials that will increase the fire risk in the vehicle;
  • Be transparent enough so as not to interfere with the safe use of the vehicle, and to enable the driver and passengers to see each other; and remain clear of scratches, clouding or stickers which would impede the drivers or passengers' visibility;
  • Be adequately and safely secured and not interfere with the safe access and egress of the driver or passengers or become easily detached during normal use; and
  • Be adequately disinfected between bookings and at the start and end of the working day.
  • Operators should inform insurers about the intention to fit such a device and ensure their insurance will not be invalidated as a result.

NHS Test and Trace

The NHS Test and Trace service has been set up to control the spread of new outbreaks through testing those with symptoms, tracing their close contacts and protecting family, friends and communities through self-isolation.

Under this strategy some businesses such as restaurants, bars and cinemas are required to gather 'contact information' from customers. 

Taxi/PHV drivers and operators are not legally required to obtain contact information from passengers, although it would be good business practice to do so. 

If you do decide to obtain contact information you should put measures in place to make sure that the personal information that you collect, store and process is compliant with the GDPR requirements.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can taxis and private hire vehicle transport passengers of ill health in and out of hospital?

Yes, but individuals should not use taxis or private hire vehicle if:

  • They have symptoms of Covid-19, a new, continuous cough or a high temperature
  • Any of your household are self-isolating due to experiencing symptoms of Covid-19.

Can taxi and private hire vehicle drivers support passengers with accessibility issues while maintaining social distancing?

Taxi and private hire vehicle drivers are still under the same obligation to provide reasonable assistance and make reasonable adjustments for disabled passengers.

The guidance includes advice on measures that workers and passengers can take when it is not possible to maintain the recommended social distance.

My Hackney or Private Hire Driver Licence is due to expire soon what will happen?

There will be no face to face appointments for the foreseeable future.

Therefore you will be asked to complete Offence and Medical declarations and your Licence will most likely be extended. This procedure will remain in place until normal services can be resumed.

Can I make a new application for a Hackney or Private Hire Driver Licence?

The Council is not currently processing any new applications during the Covid-19 emergency, however we are working to restore this service as soon as we are able. 

Anybody wanting to apply should contact Antrec Limited on 0333 023 7450 to enrol for the next Induction course and your name will be held on a waiting list.

Resources from the Department for Transport

If you have any concerns or would like any advice please contact Licensing Services on 01772 906910 or

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