The Coronavirus, also called Covid19, is spreading everywhere in the world and especially in big cities. London is not spared and the cases are growing steadily. RideShare drivers are exposed to this threat too. They are taking people to hospitals and surgeries, sometimes at their expenses. They do take people everyday from different backgrounds and habits. People who are not used to travel but also others who are travelling often to and from Europe and the rest of the world. Drivers are also picking up from all Londonian airports people coming from everywhere around the globe. If drivers have to take some precautions, ride-hailing operators should be having a role too. We have not heard that much from them so far. A pity.
A virus on the run and a passive attitude from the ride-hailing operators
Most of the ride-hailing apps in London and UK have been very quiet following the Covid-19 outbreak in the country. London is even more exposed as it contains a diverse population travelling a lot, with 6 six airports surrounding the capital and also the Eurostar trains.
Only ViaVan and Wheely released early guidelines to its drivers. Uber did the same on the 4th March. It is clearly not enough as thousands of people are travelling by using a ride-hailing app every day.
Much more could be done by everyone. In France, a Public Transport company, the RATP, has supported its employees materially. In here, the different operators could distribute to drivers items that would help prevent the spread of the virus such as hand gels and disinfectant wipes.
It could communicate with drivers and ask them to report any possible infection. That way, if a driver is infected, this report could allow Uber to get in touch with authorities and people the driver have been in contact with. Why not including a safety button in the app such as the SOS button available in the Uber app.
We know the case of the Uber driver that took an infected lady to the hospital. He was deactivated as a consequence. Little was said about whether Uber has been assisting him financially afterwards. If operators are deactivating drivers as a measure of precaution, there should be a system in place to support these drivers financially. Possibly through their insurance.
What you can do as a driver
Drivers are often helping people with their luggage before and after a trip. The basic advice is to use hand gels and wash hands regularly. But these items are more and more difficult to find in stores. As a substitute, you could use Dettol wipes and spray that would do the trick. Clean your hands with these wipes and spray the car’s seats, dashboard and boot as well as in the air.
Opening the window may help too to avoid the containment of a possible virus in a confine space. Finally if you are not feeling comfortable with picking up people from airports, just avoid it. But be aware that you pick up travelling people everyday. Whether these passengers are commuting from the train station to home after a flight or the day after when they go to work, there will always be a risk.
And be aware that you are less at risk than people who are using public transport on a daily basis. These people are passing by hundreds of other commuters every single time they use trains and buses. But indeed, there is always a risk.