Taxi windows must stay slightly open to help reduce Covid-19 spread, says Mkhize

(Gallo Images)
(Gallo Images)
  • Taxis should operate with windows slightly opened, in an attempt to reduce the spread of Covid-19.
  • Windows of vehicles are not expected to be opened wide. However, government wants fresh air to enter inside taxis that are in motion.
  • Taxi operators are also called on to ensure that all passengers are wearing masks and that their hands are sanitised regularly.

All taxis are expected to operate with some windows slightly opened as part of reducing the spread of Covid-19 inside the usually packed vehicles.

Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize addressed the media at the Dr George Mukhari Academic Hospital in Garankuwa, stating that government leaders have explained why taxis must operate with windows opened, to the taxi industry leadership.

On Sunday, President Cyril Ramaphosa, in his address to the nation, said taxis could carry at 100% capacity, while long distance taxis were allowed to ferry at 70%.

Mkhize said prior to the announcement by Ramaphosa, some government ministers sat down with taxi bosses.

"The worst case scenario of how the infection would go on in a taxi is a situation where a taxi is full of people who are not wearing masks; people infected coughing and not observing coughing etiquette; hands not sanitsied and windows closed. That pressure is going to give you the highest chance of infection.

"We have sought to mitigate against that. Everyone going into a taxi must wear a mask and we will take action against the taxi operator who won't insist on people putting on a mask," said Mkhize.

Mkhize said taxi owners must insist on passengers wearing masks and sanitise their hands regularly because door handles can also transmit the contamination that will lead to people possibly being infected.

READ: Our way or the highway: Govt seen to buckle under pressure from taxi industry, say analysts

"We said they must open their windows. There is a degree of opening windows that is enough to create the flow of air, so that the outside air can ventilate and push the air out of the vehicle so that droplets don't have time to settle on an individual," said Mkhize.

Mkhize said they insisted on the use of window stoppers in a bid to ensure windows were always opened.

"This reduces the discomfort of occupants and allows the draft of the air and depends on what speed the vehicle is moving. Taxi operators argued that the stoppers would be costly," Mkhize said.

In asking for the stoppers to be used, the government insisted that it wanted neither drivers nor passengers to interfere with the windows.

"We think that there are enough mitigating factors to reduce the risk. When the leaders of the taxi industry understood us, they said they were not aware that the risk was big and they were prepared to cooperate.

"We think we have taken a responsible approach. It takes into account that we don't want wide opened windows. We just need a few centimetres opened. We feel fairly comfortable that this angle of ventilation will make a huge impact in reducing the impacts, whether it is droplets or airborne," said Mkhize.

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