Okanagan taxi company 'very concerned' for drivers during COVID-19 pandemic - InfoNews

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Okanagan taxi company 'very concerned' for drivers during COVID-19 pandemic

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March 21, 2020 - 1:00 PM

An Okanagan taxi company operator is concerned about his drivers as they’re on the front lines of dealing with COVID-19.

Parm Gondara is the owner of Eco Taxi, a company that operates taxi services in Kelowna and Penticton and he says they are being left out of crucial information.

Once a person is diagnosed, airlines will inform other passengers they may be at risk, but “they could have taken a taxi after that, and we wouldn’t know,” he said.

A passenger infected with COVID-19 travelled on a WestJet flight from Vancouver to Kelowna, March 10.

The taxi company has been ramping up sanitization efforts, wiping down steering wheels and door handles. No driver has been sick so far, he said, but it is a concern for him.

“We should get all the updates too, right? If they find someone, especially at an airport, that’s the most vulnerable place (for drivers),” he said, adding they should tell companies if a passenger has travelled between places, so drivers are able to know if infected individuals have taken a taxi.

Taxi companies should be provided with a time frame and the trip from the airport to the destination in the event of an infection, he said.

“It will help prevent the spread to others,” he said. “I’m very concerned actually. They’re on the front lines and they’re being exposed to this… most people are trying to take their days off, we’re not running at full capacity right now.”

It’s the same situation in Penticton as drivers take time off. Eco Taxi normally has six Kelowna drivers and 14 Penticton drivers.

B.C. Taxi Association President Mohan Kang says the association doesn’t have any enhanced procedures at this time but it is continuing discussions with their drivers and government officials to ensure the safety of their customers.

“The main thing is sanitation, sanitation, sanitation,” Kang said Wednesday, March 18.

“It’s tough for a driver to know if a customer is positive. We’re at the mercy of that, but we are emphasizing with our drivers to do the best sanitation they can do, paying attention to things passengers touch such as door handles,” he said.

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