Coronavirus: Taxi Federation calls for masks to also be mandatory for passengers

It doesn't make sense for taxi drivers to be required to wear masks but not passengers, as "the danger rests with everyone", the head of the Taxi Federation says

Masks will be mandatory on flights throughout the country and on public transport in Auckland from midnight on Wednesday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins announced this afternoon.

Taxi and ride share drivers - such as Uber - will also be required to wear masks, but not their passengers.

Taxi Federation Executive Director John Hart told Checkpoint he struggled to understand the logic behind that decision. 

"It seems to us if there's a danger of bringing in an infection into the car then the danger rests with everyone, and passengers in taxis should also be wearing masks," he said.

"Maybe there's some logic behind it, but they haven't told us what it is."

For example, a person catching a plane into Auckland would have to wear a mask on the flight, then also wear a mask if they hopped on a bus upon arrival - but they wouldn't if they caught a taxi, Hart said. 

"It doesn't seem to make sense."

Hart said the federation's position was that the driver and passengers should wear masks, and he shared that opinion with the Ministry of Transport when he was contacted prior to Auckland's level 3 lockdown in August. 

"The taxi companies are doing their best to keep the vehicles clean, and in most cases they're introducing fairly rigid cleaning regimes, but it just seems it would be an awful lot more logical if the passengers were required to wear masks as well."

He said he had no problem with the rules if the government thought it was the best way to keep people safe. 

"We don't have any problem with these rules being introduced around the country, if it's thought that that's the thing to do to keep us all safe - we're happy to go along with it, but we would just like someone to tell us why it's safe for passengers to travel in taxis without a mask on."

Regardless of the government's decision, Hart said he had a message for passengers.  

"Please wear a mask. We're all in this together, we all need to keep safe, so please, please, when you get into a taxi, please wear a mask."