The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we live lives in many ways. Even after the pandemic is contained and the lockdown is over, people will prefer taking precautions and maintaining distance. In Kerala, the people have already started taking steps towards normalcy and to adopt life with the pandemic, the taxis of the state have come up with an innovative idea.
The taxi drivers are quite susceptible to contract the virus due to the nature of the job. Various people use the cab multiple times during the day and to ensure the health safety of the drivers, the authority in Kerala has advised and sugged that all taxi drivers should install a fibreglass partition to create a safe zone for themselves. The fibreglass wall will be between the driver and the second-row seats. The officials have said that the installation of fibreglass is very easy and it can ensure the safety of the driver and the passengers.
The Kerala Government has also said that there are many Indians who are trapped in foreign countries. Soon they will return back to India and many of them are Kerala residents. With their return, the number of coronavirus cases may rise. Ernakulam district administration has asked the taxi drivers to installed the fibreglass partition as soon as possible to avoid direct contact between the driver and the passengers.
The state government has already laid down the rules to ferry passengers in the cabs. In small hatchbacks or sedans with an up capacity of five passengers, only two passengers will be allowed while bigger vehicles like MPVs can take up to 4 passengers. The passengers are not allowed to sit in the front seat or put any luggage or other personal items there.
Even though the authorities have asked all the taxi drivers to install the partition, it will be mandatory for any cab that serves at the airports of the state for at least one year. also, the passengers will be given sanitizers inside the taxi to reduce the risk of the spread. The authorities have also said that the taxi drivers will have to open the door of the taxi as the customers are not allowed to touch the door handles. The passengers and the drivers will have to mandatory masks while the drivers will also have to wear mandatory hand gloves. The taxi operators and drivers have been directed to adopt cashless payments in a bid to reduce interactions and stop any exchange of money, which can also spread the virus.
After every ride, the taxi drivers will have to clean the passenger area and make sure that the car is free of any germs. It is not known if the state will provide any fund to the drivers or operators to install the partition. We may get to see such partitions around India in the coming months.