Newfoundland and Labrador may be in Alert Level 2, with all its eased restrictions for businesses and social events, but both the government and cab companies are reminding people there are still public health guidelines when they’re in a taxi.
“You get a few that God himself wouldn’t please, that’s just the nature of people,” said Newfound Cabs manager Derek Hayter.
Hayter said most passengers are understanding even if they’re not happy about the rules, but there have been instances where things have gotten tense between passengers and drivers.
“I wouldn’t say unruly, but maybe a bit verbal, using colourful language that you can’t use on TV.”
It’s enough that both the provincial government and two St. John’s cab companies had to publicly reiterate the importance of abiding by health restrictions in taxis.
The rules mean no more than two passengers can enter a car, and both have to sit in the back. Three passengers can use a van cab, also sitting in the back. No passenger is allowed to ride in the front.
There is an exception — taxis can take the maximum number of passengers without the front seat being occupied if those passengers are within the same family bubble
While not mandatory, the provincial government said digital or contactless payments are encouraged and may help to reduce contact between the driver and passengers.
“The amount of actual cash coming in is down, and amount of debit and credit is significantly up,” Hayter said. “I’d say by about 50 per cent.”
At Jiffy Cabs, general manager George Murphy said there has been blowback from customers, especially those going out on a Friday night.
Murphy compares dealing with them to events in early July when customers packed bars on George Street shortly after they were allowed to open, disappointing health officials and people across the province in one night.
“Even though we like to inform them on the phone of what the rules are, some people look at it and say ‘rules are meant to be broken,'” Murphy said.
“That’s kind of unfortunate. We’ve got rules we’ve got to live by. It’s meant to preserve the integrity of the service we provide and it is an essential service.”