1 June 2020

We have received queries relating to the fitting of screens to licensed vehicles as a precautionary measure in relation to the coronavirus.

We will look longer term at a solution for approval across the ten authorities, however this is not an option that we can advise proprietors to pursue at this moment in time, and we would not recommend it.

Current scientific advice is that the virus can survive for a period of time on plastic surfaces and there is therefore a possibility that fitting of such a screen provides an additional area that could harbour the virus. This would then present an additional burden on drivers to clean this area between fares.

Further, the fitting of such a screen would not remove the need to interact directly with passengers to take payment, where pre-payment or contactless systems are not available. There is a concern that the presence of such a screen would give the customer a false sense of security as regards transmission of the virus.

It is of course a decision that individual proprietors may themselves make, but please be advised that:

Any adaptations to a vehicle would need to be agreed with the insurance company, and we would advise that written confirmation is obtained that the vehicle remains insured.

Any addition of a ‘screen’ would not form part of the vehicle inspection, and therefore will not be tested as part of that inspection

The Authority would not accept liability in circumstances in which a screen has caused injury to a passenger or driver, as we do not recommend the addition of a screen in licensed vehicles.

We would remind proprietors who are continuing to operate that they have a responsibility during the pandemic to minimise the potential for the spread of the virus between customers and drivers, by keeping their vehicles clean, e.g. by sanitising high contact areas such as belts and handles between fares. Social distancing rules should still apply where possible.

If you did still decide to fit a screen, the advice from the Community Infection Prevention and Control Service on barriers / plastics screens is as follows:

The barriers would only be to prevent droplet contamination from cough/sneezes – and staff with any symptoms would, of course, be off work and isolating for the 7 days. They would also be able to request a self-test kit through the .GOV portal as classed as an essential worker, or be able to access the local drive thru testing through manager application at the Bolton Wanderers site.

The only guidance is that which has been released around use of protective barriers in vehicles is as per the .GOV link:

This does state that plastic screens can be used if staff working in vehicles cannot be 2 metres apart.  

Additional cleaning/decontamination would be required if these were installed, along with all other surfaces of the cab, and this would need to be stressed if the decision is taken to fund the screens. The companies (who are currently lining up to provide the screens at a substantial cost I would imagine!) would be required to provide appropriate decontamination advice.  As per MHRA guidance (see link below), some disinfectants are not suitable for plastic surfaces, including bleach/chlorine based products: