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City to establish protocols for COVID-19 patients using taxis

Taxi driver Nicolae Hent, wearing a protective mask, poses for a photograph before before starting work (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

The City of Toronto says it is going to work with taxi companies to establish protocols and procedures when it comes to transporting someone who may be infected with COVID-19.

Mayor John Tory says he’s asked the Emergency Operations Centre to work with the taxi industry to ensure that people have the transportation they need if they are going to an assessment centre.

“Those people need to receive transportation but it’s also a fair concern to ensure that taxi drivers are kept safe,” said Tory. “In the meantime I continue to urge anyone with COVID symptoms to stay home, do not take transit or a taxi or rideshare. If you’re booking a taxi to go for testing, please advise the company so they can prepare for that.”

The announcement comes in the wake of what Toronto Public Health called “misinformation” regarding the use of taxis and rideshare to get to testing centres.

“This is wrong,” tweeted Kristine Hubbard of Beck Taxi. “The City should be recruiting specific drivers for this to reduce spread.”

Thursday afternoon, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health issued a clarification to the concerns raised by taxi drivers, whom she called “essential workers.”

“If you are unable to arrange a ride, take a taxi or car service,” said Dr. Eileen de Villa. “Ensure the windows of the car are open, sit in the back seat and wear a mask, scarf or face covering over your nose and mouth. If you are travelling by taxi or car service, record the company name and license plate.”

Dr. de Villa reiterated that anyone who is infected with COVID-19 and self-isolating should stay at home and that the only reason to travel is to go to a scheduled healthcare appointment or to a hospital. If anyone is in need of urgent medical attention, they should call 9-1-1.

“Now that we are aware of the instructions we can ask taxi drivers if they are willing to do this work,” responded Hubbard.

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