Freedom Day: Leeds councillor urges Government to keep mandatory masks in taxis amid safety fears
A Leeds councillor has urged the Government to U-turn over the decision to remove the mandatory requirement to wear face masks in taxis.
Labour councillor Javaid Akhtar, of the Yorkshire Professional Drivers' Association, said drivers are fearful of bringing the virus home to their families once the legal requirement to wear face coverings on transport is scrapped.
When the remaining restrictions in England are lifted on Monday (July 19) people will no longer be required by law to wear face coverings in taxis or private hire vehicles.
Coun Akhtar said this has left many of the thousands of professional drivers in Leeds fearing for their safety, as coronavirus cases rise in the city.
“There is a concern and fear among many drivers," Coun Akhtar told the Yorkshire Evening Post.
"In a small car, there is very little social distance between drivers and the customers.
“We support the decisions of the Mayor of London and now the West Yorkshire Mayor and want to see compulsory masks [in taxis and private hire cars] - to protect drivers and to protect customers."
West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin has ordered masks to be worn in bus stations across the county, while Sadiq Khan has asked Transport for London to keep face coverings compulsory on its services.
The Government has called for the public to exercise caution from July 19 and recommends masks should still be used in crowded and enclosed spaces, including on public transport, but they are no longer required by law.
Coun Akhtar added: "Over the last 17 months, professional drivers have been victims of this virus. The last thing we want to see is people bringing the disease back to their families and children.
“We know coronavirus numbers are going up, we know things are not going well. It’s important to recognise that face coverings will help. Anything that reduces the spread, we should support it.
“I would urge the power makers to sit up and listen to people like myself and make the right decision, to make face coverings compulsory across the transport industry.
“It’s the right thing to do until things have settled down."
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