Free Now taxi drivers are calling for the wearing of facemasks in taxis to be made mandatory as they see issues with compliance among passengers in Cork.
Following complaints from drivers in both Cork and Dublin, Free Now are calling on the government to make face coverings mandatory in taxi vehicles.
The taxi e-hailing app previously called to be included in legislation that made face coverings mandatory on public transport, however, changes have not been made.
Speaking to, General Manager of Free Now, Niall Carson said that he is frustrated by having to call on the Government again to make face coverings mandatory for passengers in taxi vehicles.
“On all our jobs, drivers can submit feedback at the end, and unfortunately, we’re seeing an increase at the end of a job where a driver will say a passenger refused to wear a mask and that puts the driver in a very uncomfortable position.
“The fact that it hasn’t been put in place is really, really frustrating and we - as the largest taxi network in Ireland - have a position where we want to protect the drivers as much as possible. They chose to work with us, of course, and we want to make sure we’re representing them and arguing for their safety,” he said.
Derek O’Keeffe, a taxi driver for Free Now in Cork, said that about half of his passengers do not have a face covering on when they get into his vehicle.
“Some people, when you ask them to please put on the facemask or face covering, they will do so with no problem but others remind you fairly quickly that there are no regulations that cover that.
“It shouldn’t be our place as taxi drivers to be having to have this conversation with passengers. If the necessary steps were taken and they were mandatory, then passengers would have these face masks on before they entered the vehicle.”
Mr O’Keeffe described the current situation as “appalling”, stating that he and many other drivers feel ignored by the Government.
“It’s appalling. It’s almost like by not making facemasks mandatory in taxis as well as other modes of transport, it’s almost indirectly saying that the life of a taxi driver doesn’t matter as much.
“It would be nice if we could have the same respect moving forward as bus drivers, Luas drivers, train drivers. We play an important role too and I think it would be nice to think that our safety and security does matter and were not simply being ignored.”