As the number of COVID-19 cases climbs above the thousands, Singapore is now in the “second wave” of infections. COVID-19 has an incubation period of up to 14 days, meaning that someone who carries the virus might not exhibit any noticeable symptoms like fever, coughing, chills and so on for up to 14 days, if at all.
In this time, they could have come into contact with many others–including yourselves! This could be especially worrying for frontline staff such as retail, service and F&B workers, but even more so for private hire drivers as people seek to avoid taking crowded public transport. We understand that for many of you, this is your main avenue of income and stopping altogether is just not feasible. So with that in mind, here are some measures and tips that can be taken to minimise your risk to yourself and your loved ones as a private hire driver.
Tip 1: Protect yourself
Always wear a mask
To prevent yourself from potentially contracting the virus and becoming a spreader, private hire drivers should always wear a mask in the confined spaces of your car. Although health authorities in Singapore have said that masks are necessary mainly for people who exhibit symptoms, you should not take any chances.
It’s also equally important to check that your masks have been put on correctly. Your mask should be covering your mouth, nose and chin, and should not have holes or gaps at the sides where the masks meet your cheeks. And though we known getting masks can be a challenge at this time, they should not be re-used, especially if they are soiled or wet.
Sanitise as much as possible
While washing your hands with soap is the preferred way of sanitising, we understand that it is not feasible for private hire drivers to wash their hands between every passenger or interaction. In this case, hand sanitisers (make sure the alcohol content is above 60% for actual effectiveness against the virus!) should be carried at all times in the car for your own use and your passengers’ use as well.
Drivers should also pay extra mind to sanitise your hands, especially after receiving cash from passengers! You can also choose to provide masks to passengers who exhibit symptoms or choose to decline these passengers altogether–after all, safety comes first. While this may impact your monetary bottom line, the potential costs of contracting the virus or even falling ill are much higher.
Tip 2: Keep the car clean and well-ventilated
We know that as drivers, you take pride in keeping the exterior of the car clean and spotless, but extra care should also be taken with the interior. Aside from cleaning up general dirt and litter, make sure to also use sanitising wipes to clean all interior surfaces of the car to get rid of germs. This should be done at least twice a day (in the middle and the end of the shift), and also especially after carrying a passenger that exhibits symptoms such as coughing and excessive sneezing!
A more convenient method can be implemented between every passenger, where you can use a sanitising spray (like Dettol or Lysol) on the rear passenger seat area. A general rule of thumb for these sprays is to hold them 15-20cm from the surface, and spray for 2-3 seconds before letting it air dry.
This means that windows should also be open after dropping off passengers, this measure not only helps to dry the seat but also allows for the interior of the car to be ventilated, removing any airborne particles that may be harmful. This gives both you and your subsequent passengers greater peace of mind.
Tip 3: Diversify income and minimise risk
In these uncertain times, people are more eager to stay home and rely on food and grocery deliveries, leading to a mismatch in demand and supply for delivery services. Private hire drivers can look to filling this gap. In light of this crisis, the government has temporarily loosened the regulations which prohibit taxis and private hire drivers from using their vehicles to make deliveries, with effect from now until June 2020.
To get in on this, Grab is currently carrying out and expanding a trial which allows private hire drivers to deliver goods and food during off-peak hours — so that is an option that drivers can consider. This not only allows you to supplement your daily income, but it also lowers your risk through reduced close contact with passengers.
How Private Hire Drivers can Beat COVID-19
As the COVID-19 crisis continues to develop, private hire transport remains an important service as people seek to minimise their time on public transport. This means that drivers should take extra care to protect yourselves, not only to protect your families and livelihoods as but also to do your part in society by minimising the spread of the virus.
To keep yourself in top driving shape, make sure you stay well-rested, hydrated and take your vitamins to keep your immunity up. If you do start to develop any symptoms, please do seek medical advice and do not continue driving. Remember that social responsibility belongs to all of us!