We've put together some answers to frequently asked questions about Coronavirus for the taxi, hire car and rideshare industry.

About Coronavirus
Advice for Drivers
Advice for Passengers

About Coronavirus

Q: What is Coronavirus?

A: Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness caused by a new virus which affects humans and animals. Some Coronaviruses can cause illness similar to the common cold, and others such as SARS can cause more serious illness. Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, sore throat and shortness of breath, and can take up to 14 days to develop.

Q: How is COVID-19 transmitted?

A: COVID-19 spreads through close contact with an infected person, mostly face-to-face or within a closed space. It can’t jump across a room or be carried for long distances in the air.

Q: What is a close contact?

A: A close contact is a person who has been face to face for at least 15 minutes with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, or has been in the same closed space for at least two hours, when they were potentially infectious. You may be a close contact if you:

- are living in the same household or household-like setting (for example a boarding school or hostel)

- have direct contact with the bodily fluids or laboratory specimens of a confirmed case

- have spent two hours or longer in the same room

- have had face-to-face contact with a confirmed case for more than 15 minutes, in any other setting not listed above.

If you are a close contact, you have a significant risk of becoming infected with COVID-19.

Q: How can I reduce my risk of developing COVID-19?

A: Take the following steps to reduce your exposure and chance of getting ill with COVID-19:

- Wash your hands often with soap and running water, for at least 20 seconds.

- Dry your hands with a paper towel or hand dryer.

- Try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth.

- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.

- If you don’t have a tissue on hand, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow.

- Clean and disinfect high touch surfaces regularly.

- Stop shaking hands or kissing as a greeting.

- Stay at home if you feel sick.

- If you take medication make sure you have enough. Get vaccinated for the flu (influenza) when the vaccine is available in April. It isn’t yet known whether COVID-19 could significantly increase the risk of influenza infection.

- Phone your doctor or the DHHS hotline – 1800 675 398 – if you need medical attention. They will tell you what to do. Continue healthy habits: exercise, drink water, get plenty of sleep.

- Wearing a face mask is not necessary if you are well.

- Buy an alcohol-based sanitiser with over 60 percent alcohol.

- Avoid crowds if possible. If you can’t, keep the time spent in a crowd short.

What is ‘social distancing’?

Social distancing is a way to help slow down the spread of COVID-19. It involves changing your social habits to reduce the risk of transmission, and is beneficial to yourself and your community. Social distancing is effective, but by itself it can’t eliminate the risk of transmission. It includes:

  • staying home when unwell
  • avoiding large crowds and gatherings which are non-essential
  • avoiding small gatherings, in enclosed spaces, that are non-essential
  • keeping a distance of 1.5 metres between yourself and others
  • avoiding visiting vulnerable people, such as those in aged care facilities or hospitals, or people with compromised immune systems due to illness or medical treatment
  • minimising contact such as shaking hands, hugging and kissing especially with people at a higher risk, such as people with the elderly and those with existing medical conditions.

Advice for Drivers

If you are a Taxi, Hire Vehicle or Rideshare Driver, please take the time to read these Q&A’s specifically for you.

Q: Where can I go to get tested for COVID-19?

A: If you feel unwell, stay at home and away from others. If you are concerned that you have the symptoms of COVID-19, including fever, cough, sore throat and shortness of breath, call your doctor immediately, and they can provide you with advice on your next course of action.

Q: What happens if I test positive for COVID-19 or have been instructed to self-isolate?

A: There is a risk that you could spread the virus to other people. Please read the information on ‘confirmed case’ provided on the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) website. You must follow those instructions immediately.

You must also notify CPVV immediately. You will be served with a Prohibition Notice requiring you to cease providing your service immediately. There are significant court penalties for non-compliance with a Prohibition Notice.

Once you receive a medical clearance certificate from a doctor or Public Health Officer confirming you are no longer infectious and can cease your self-isolation, please contact CPVV at case.assessment@cpv.vic.gov.au so that it can arrange for the reinstatement of your driver accreditation.

Until then, you must remain in self-isolation.

Q: What happens if I display symptoms and have been tested for COVID-19 and am awaiting results?

A: There is a risk that you could have COVID-19 and could spread the virus to other people. Please read the information on ‘suspected case’ provided on the DHHS website. You must follow those instructions immediately.

You must also notify CPVV immediately. You will be served with a Prohibition Notice requiring you to cease providing your service immediately. There are significant court penalties for non-compliance with a Prohibition Notice.

Once you receive a medical clearance certificate from a doctor or Public Health Officer confirming you are no longer infectious and can cease your self-isolation, please contact CPVV at case.assessment@cpv.vic.gov.au so that it can arrange for the reinstatement of your driver accreditation.

Until then, you must remain in self-isolation.

Q: What if I have been in close contact with a confirmed case for COVID-19?

A: If you have been identified by DHHS as having had close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19, you will be required to self-isolate for 14 days.

A Public Health Officer from the DHHS will be in contact with you daily to monitor you for symptoms.

Being in close contact means there is a significant risk of becoming infected with COVID-19. Please read the information on ‘close contact’ provided on the DHHS website. You must follow those instructions immediately.

You must also notify CPVV immediately. You will be served with a Prohibition Notice requiring you to cease providing your service immediately. There are significant court penalties for non-compliance with a Prohibition Notice.

Once you receive a medical clearance certificate from a doctor or Public Health Officer confirming you are no longer infectious and can cease your self-isolation, please contact CPVV at case.assessment@cpv.vic.gov.au so that it can arrange for the reinstatement of your driver accreditation.

Until then, you must remain in self-isolation.

Q: What happens if I display symptoms for COVID-19?

A: If you are feeling unwell, you should cease providing your service. Furthermore, if you are displaying symptoms for COVID-19, you should immediately contact the DHHS dedicated hotline on 1800 675 398 (24 hours, 7 days a week) for advice.

Q: What are booking service providers required to do if one of their drivers becomes a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 case or is required to self-isolate?

A: Booking service providers are asked to report instances of drivers who are suspected/confirmed COVID-19 cases or have been required to self-isolate by contacting CPVV at case.assessment@cpv.vic.gov.au.

Q: Can a passenger use my vehicle if they are displaying symptoms of COVID-19?

A: Wherever possible, unwell passengers should use a personal mode of transport to minimise exposure to others.

If a passenger needs to use a Taxi, Hire or Rideshare vehicle to travel to a location for isolation and is displaying symptoms, then they should avoid contact with the driver and stay more than 1.5 metres away from them. The passenger should sit in the back seat, and hand sanitisers should be available to both the passenger and driver. The air conditioner/heating setting should be set to external airflow mode, as opposed to recycled.

If you believe a passenger hasn’t taken the above precautions and you can’t provide a safe service as a result, then you may choose to refuse or terminate the trip.

It is never ok to refuse or cancel a trip based on a passenger’s nationality, disability or cultural background. There are equal opportunity and anti-discrimination laws that apply to fare refusal. You should also be mindful of passenger safety at all times.

Q: Can a passenger use my vehicle to travel if they are required to self-isolate after international travel or being a close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case, and do I have to take them?

A: Wherever possible, unwell passengers should use a personal mode of transport to minimise exposure to others.

If a passenger needs to use a Taxi, Hire or Rideshare vehicle to travel to a location for isolation, the Federal Department of Health has advised them to take the following precautions:

- wear a surgical mask, if available

- avoid direct contact with other passengers, drivers and transport staff

- wash hands frequently with soap and water, before and after eating, and after going to the toilet

- cover coughs and sneezes, dispose of tissues, and use alcohol-based hand sanitiser

- if unwell, avoid contact with others (stay more than 1.5 metres from people).

If you believe that a passenger hasn’t taken the above precautions and you can’t provide a safe service as a result, then you may choose to refuse or terminate the trip.

Group transport of at-risk people, including older people, should be avoided where possible.

It is never ok to refuse or cancel a trip based on a passenger’s nationality, disability or cultural background. There are equal opportunity and anti-discrimination laws that apply to fare refusal. You should also be mindful of passenger safety at all times.

Q: Can I ask passengers to apply disinfectant hand sanitiser?

A: While passengers aren’t required to apply hand sanitiser, you can certainly offer it to your passenger. You should also clean and disinfect surfaces in your vehicle which you and your passengers touch, as well as wash your own hands thoroughly with soap and water or use hand sanitiser, regularly.

Q: Can I refuse cash as payment?

A: We recognise that cash may not be your preferred payment method during this time. Digital and contactless payment methods may assist in reducing contact between drivers and passengers. If you do decide to receive cash, you should wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water or apply hand sanitiser after handling it. Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.

Q: Should I wear personal protective equipment (PPE)?

A: You don’t need to wear a mask if you are healthy. However, you can choose to wear a mask if you wish. If you are unwell, you shouldn’t drive.

Q: How can I keep my vehicle clean and am I required to clean my vehicle after each trip to minimise the impact of the virus?

A: You should regularly clean and disinfect surfaces in your vehicle which you and your passengers touch, as well as wash your own hands thoroughly with soap and water, or use hand sanitiser, regularly.

Guidance on how to clean frequently touched surfaces and on appropriate grade disinfectants is available here: https://www.health.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/2020/03/environmental-cleaningand-disinfection-principles-for-covid-19.pdf

Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.

Keep a box of tissues in your vehicle, and if you do cough or sneeze, use a tissue, dispose of it straight away and then wash your hands. In the event of a passenger or driver spreading droplets (such as sneezing, coughing or vomiting), the driver should clean surfaces with appropriate disinfectant wipes so that the potential spread of infection can be minimised.

Once the passenger has disembarked and the journey is complete, the driver isn’t required to take any further measures. Drivers should employ standard cleaning practices at the end of each shift, as part of good hygiene practice.

Drivers may choose to clean and disinfect surfaces more often if they are regularly taking passengers who are displaying symptoms of COVID-19 or require self-isolation.

Q: I have been unable to find the recommended cleaning products in the supermarket. Will government help provide or source these products for me?

A: The current cleaning product supply issue is being assessed as well as the impact across the transport portfolio. You will be advised as soon as we have an update on this issue.

Q: Can drivers choose not to work if they are worried about contracting the virus? Can their employer sack them?

A: The advice is to go about business as normal. Individual circumstances will depend on employment contracts, and we encourage drivers to seek advice from their booking service provider about the arrangements to get support during this time.

Q: My income has fallen significantly since COVID-19 started, where can I go for financial support?

A: The Federal Government has recently announced a number of income support measures to help people affected by the economic impacts of COVID-19. An outline of the support for individuals and households is available here: https://treasury.gov.au/coronavirus/households

If you need urgent financial assistance, try applying online through MyGov (https://my.gov.au/) if you have digital access. If you don’t have online access, the phone number for Jobseeker Payment is 132 850. Try again if you can’t get through the first time, and avoid attending Centrelink offices if possible. Application processes are changing on a regular basis, so please refer to the Centerlink (https://www.centrelink.gov.au/) website for the latest information.

Advice for Passengers

If you are a Taxi, Hire Vehicle or Rideshare Passenger, please take the time to read these Q&A’s specifically for you:

Q: Where can I go to be tested for COVID-19?

A: If you feel unwell, stay at home and away from others. If you are concerned that you have the symptoms of COVID-19, including fever, cough, sore throat and shortness of breath, call your doctor immediately, and they can provide you with advice on your next course of action.

Q: Can I use a Taxi, Hire or Rideshare vehicle if I am displaying symptoms of COVID-19?

A: Wherever possible, unwell passengers should use a personal mode of transport to minimise exposure to others.

If you need to use a Taxi, Hire or Rideshare vehicle to travel to a location for isolation and you are displaying symptoms, then you should avoid contact with the driver and stay more than 1.5 metres away from them. You should sit in the back seat, and hand sanitiser should be available to you to utilise.

If the driver believes you haven’t taken the above precautions and can’t provide a safe service as a result, then they may choose to refuse or terminate the trip.

It is never ok for a driver to refuse or cancel a trip based on a passenger’s nationality, disability or cultural background. There are equal opportunity and anti-discrimination laws that apply to fare refusal.

Q: Can I use a Taxi, Hire or Rideshare vehicle to travel to a self-isolation location after international travel or being a close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case?

A: Wherever possible, you should use a personal mode of transport to minimise exposure to others. If you need to use a Taxi, Hire or Rideshare vehicle to travel to a location for isolation, the Federal Department of Health has advised you to take the following precautions:

- wear a surgical mask, if available

- avoid direct contact with other passengers, drivers and transport staff

- wash hands frequently with soap and water, before and after eating, and after going to the toilet

- cover coughs and sneezes, dispose of tissues, and use alcohol-based hand sanitiser

- if unwell, avoid contact with others (stay more than 1.5 metres from people).

If a driver believes that you haven’t taken the above precautions and can’t provide a safe service as a result, then they may choose to refuse or terminate the trip.

It is never ok for a driver to refuse or cancel a trip based on a passenger’s nationality, disability or cultural background. There are equal opportunity and anti-discrimination laws that apply to fare refusal.

Q: How is the government dealing with suspected or confirmed driver cases?

A: If a confirmed case of COVID-19 is reported to CPVV, the driver will be served a Prohibition Notice and will be removed from the Public Register until they provide evidence from a medical specialist that they are not infectious and are sufficiently fit and healthy to provide this service again.

Drivers required to self-isolate will be served a Prohibition Notice and will be removed from the Public Register:

- if they develop symptoms during the self-isolation period, but test negative for COVID-19, until they provide evidence of the negative test

if they develop symptoms during the self-isolation period and test positive for COVID-19, until they provide evidence from a medical specialist that they aren’t infectious and are sufficiently fit and healthy to drive again
if they complete their period of self-isolation without developing symptoms, they’ll be added back onto the public register when confirmations are received.
Q: Can I ask the driver to apply disinfectant hand sanitiser before handling my luggage or giving me change when I have paid in cash?

A: While it’s not required for a driver to use hand sanitiser, you can certainly offer it to the driver.

Q: Can drivers refuse payment in cash and coins?

A: We recognise that cash may not be a driver’s preferred payment method during this time. Digital and contactless payment methods may assist in reducing contact between drivers and passengers. If you do pay in cash, you should wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water or apply hand sanitiser after handling it. Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.

Q: Should passengers wear personal protective equipment (PPE)?

A: You don’t need to wear a mask if you are healthy. However, you can choose to wear a mask if you wish. If you are unwell and have no option but to use a Taxi, Hire or Rideshare vehicle service, you should wear a mask.

Q: Are drivers required to clean their vehicles after each trip to minimise the impact of the virus?

A: Drivers have been advised to regularly clean and disinfect surfaces in their vehicle which passengers touch, as well as wash their own hands thoroughly with soap and water or use hand sanitiser regularly.

Guidance on the cleaning of frequently touched surfaces is available here: https://www.health.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/2020/03/environmental-cleaning-and-disinfectionprinciples-for-covid-19.pdf

It is also recommended that drivers keep a box of tissues in the vehicle.

Source: https://cpv.vic.gov.au/drivers/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-covid-19-faqs2