Taxi windows must be 5cm open at all times — and other rules for public transport

Taxis must keep their windows on both sides open at least 5cm to reduce the spread of Covid-19, according to new regulations.
Image: SUNDAY TIMES / ERIC MALEMA

Taxis, buses and other public transport vehicles must keep their windows — on both sides — at least 5cm open in an effort to reduce the spread of Covid-19.

These are among the government’s formalised new directives, signed by transport minister Fikile Mbalula and gazetted on Wednesday.

The new directives state that operators of public transport vehicles must ensure that vehicles are tidy, and are sanitised before picking up and after dropping off passengers.

“The operators of public transport vehicles must ensure that the door handles, window handles, arm rests and hand rails of all public transport vehicles are sanitised after every load. The driver must ensure that the passengers are sanitised before entering a public transport vehicle and after leaving the vehicle,” the gazette states.

The government will not be providing any materials to sanitise the vehicles, with the responsibility resting on the operators themselves, who must also provide information on disinfection procedures.

The regulations make it mandatory for all drivers, passengers, owners or operators of public transport vehicles to wear cloth face masks or another appropriate item that covers the nose and mouth throughout the journey.

Transport operators are also compelled to put measures in place to ensure social distancing. The load capacity remains 70% of maximum passengers for long-distance intraprovincial and permitted interprovincial travel. The rule applies to minibus, midibus and bus services.

Long-distance rail operations and travel remain prohibited, according to the gazette.

Meanwhile, trips not considered to be long-distance are permitted to load at 100% capacity. The rule applies to bus services, minibus, midibus, minibus taxi-type services, e- hailing services, meter taxis, shuttle services, chauffeur-driven vehicles and scholar transport services.

For short-distance trips, rail operations are permitted to carry not more than 70% of their licensed passenger capacity.

While the sale and distribution of alcohol was immediately banned last week, the gazette stipulates that liquor can be transported from manufacturing plants to storage facilities.

The transportation of liquor to ports of exit for export purposes is permitted, the regulations state.

In terms of the provision of improved access, hygiene and disinfection control at public transport facilities, the new regulations stipulate:

  • all owners of public transport facilities must, at least twice daily, sanitise their facilities and provide adequate sanitisers or other hygiene dispensers for washing of hands and disinfection equipment for users of public transport services for the duration of the declared national state of disaster;
  • all owners of public transport facilities must put measures in place to adhere to the requirements of social distancing of at least 1.5m to curb the spread of the virus including systems to ensure physical distance of least 1.5m while commuters are queuing for public transport;
  • gathering at public transport facilities by taxi drivers or employees working at public transport facilities or by any other person or passenger is prohibited;
  • all employees working at public transport facilities, including any marshal or security officer who interacts with members of the public, must wear a cloth face mask, homemade item or another appropriate item that covers the nose and mouth, and may in addition wear a face shield; and
  • owners of public transport facilities may not allow any member of the public to enter their facilities without wearing a cloth face mask, homemade item or another appropriate item that covers the nose and mouth.
BY NONKULULEKO NJILO

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