With COVID-19 causing a global pandemic, drivers need to take extra precautions with hygiene.
We’ve put together content for chauffeurs and drivers of personalised passenger transport vehicles and aims to give drivers information on suitable hygiene practices for the current COVID-19 Pandemic. It also educates you on best-practice so you can reassure your passengers, and build consumer confidence when we come out of these challenging times.
The information here is a guide and does not substitute for medical advice or checking with guidelines of your local Health Authority.
If you think you may have been in close contact with a confirmed case of coronavirus, you should:
- stop driving passengers and self isolate to limit the spread
- monitor your health, stay hydrated and eat well
- seek medical attention if you begin to display symptoms
If you receive confirmation that a passenger travelled in your vehicle while COVID-19 positive, you are required to self quarantine for a minimum of 14 days. Check with your local authority in regards to the sanitisation and quarantine requirements of your vehicle.
Terms and conditions
This does not substitute for medical advice. If you are unwell see your doctor. Read, and apply to the manufacturers’ instructions of all sanitising products used. As more information is discovered about COVID-19, it is advised that you frequently check the advice of your local authority. This is a general guide only and by visiting this page you agree not to hold EKAR, it's directors or partners liable for any damages due to using the information contained here.
COVID-19 - What You Need to Know
What is COVID-19?
The information presented by the World Health Organisation states that COVID-19 can cause symptoms very similar to the flu.
The World Health Organisation describes the COVID-19 Symptoms as typically being:
- dry cough
Some patients may have:
- aches and pains
- nasal congestion
- runny nose
- sore throat
- These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually.
- Occasionally people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don't feel unwell.
- Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment.
- Around 1 out of every 6 people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing.
- Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness.
- People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention.
Here's a link to the World Health Organisation Q&A
How is COVID-19 Spread?
COVID-19 is a new disease and we are still learning how it spreads, however there are a number of ways that are confirmed risks for transmission.
The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.
- Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 2 metres).
- Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
A single cough can produce up to 3,000 droplets. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. This can be challenging when confined in a closed space, like a car.
Health Experts have said that people can have COVID-19 and show no symptoms. These people can be shedding the virus and passing it to others.
Contaminated surfaces or objects
Someone can potentially get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or eyes.
The World Health Organisation states on their website:
"It is not certain how long the virus that causes COVID-19 survives on surfaces, but it seems to behave like other coronaviruses. Studies suggest that coronaviruses (including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus) may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. This may vary under different conditions (e.g. type of surface, temperature or humidity of the environment)."
Other articles state that the corona virus can last on cardboard for up to 24 hours and on smooth surfaces like plastic, metal or glass for 72 hours or longer.*
Washing your hands and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces daily are key in preventing the spread of COVID-19.
There is also some evidence that the virus can stay active for longer in faecal matter. For those not washing their hands thoroughly after visiting the toilet, you may contaminate anything you touch!
When Are Drivers At Risk?
Chauffeurs and drivers are at risk as they come into contact with many people each day.
- Healthy Passengers – Many people with COVID-19 are well and unaware they are carrying the disease or haven't started displaying symptoms.
- Transporting Sick Passengers – Some members of the community do not have access to their own transport and rely on drivers to transport them safely to the hospital or doctors surgery.
- Transporting Passengers Arriving on International Flights – People who have travelled internationally are at moderate risk for COVID-19. International flights are limited at present.
Contact with other people
- Staff and other people at rest stops, service stations and shops.
- When touching surfaces at a business or customer premises, roadhouses, shops and services stations.
- When touching the pump handle while fuelling the vehicle.
Delivering goods to customers
- When you need to open doors or gates to access the delivery address.
- Touching the package you need to deliver (unlikely a significant risk).
How to Protect Yourself
CURRENT ADVICE: Stay home unless you provide an essential service, are going to collect groceries or seeking medical attention.
To minimise risk:
- Put distance between yourself and others
- Wash your hands
- Stay home if you are unwell
- Avoid close contact with sick people
Additional advice for drivers:
- Sanitise your vehicle thoroughly
- Avoid physical contact with passengers and their belongings
- If a passenger displays symptoms ensure they are using a mask or tissue (if a mask is not available).
- Wear a mask if you have one and it is recommended in your region, ensure you remove and dispose of your mask safely.
Some drivers are installing plastic shields to separate themselves from the passengers. If you do this you are responsible to ensure the shield meets safety standards and it is kept clean.
Be Careful When Fuelling Your Vehicle
When you touch the petrol bowser remember that it has the potential to be a contaminated surface.
Use one of these methods to protect yourself
- If you have gloves, wear them then remove and dispose of them safely. Then wash or sanitise your hands. OR
- Wipe all of the touch points of the bowser handle with an antibacterial wipe. Once you have finished fuelling, wash or sanitise your hands afterwards. OR
- Use the bowser and wash or sanitise your hands afterwards.
For more information on how to protect yourself visit the World Health Organisation website.
What to Do
If you think you may have been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19:
Stop driving and self quarantine to limit the spread.
Monitor your health, stay hydrated and eat well.
Seek medical attention if you begin to display symptoms.
If you receive confirmation that you have come into contact with a person who is COVID-19 positive, you are required to self quarantine for a minimum of 14 days. Check with your local authority in regards to the sanitisation and quarantine requirements of your vehicle.
If you have COVID-19 symptoms:
If available, wear a mask when you start feeling unwell, stop working and start making arrangements to self quarantine.
Stop driving and self quarantine to limit the spread.
Inform your workplace and others you have close contact with.
Monitor your health, stay hydrated and eat well.
Practice good hygiene and stay isolated.
Seek medical attention.
SANITIZING YOUR VEHICLE
When to Sanitise Your Vehicle
To ensure the safety of yourself as the driver and the safety of your passengers it's important that your vehicle is sanitised regularly.
There are varying standards emerging in regards to how often to clean your vehicle. The standard in most regions at the moment is as follows.
Full Vehicle Clean – at the end of each shift, at driver change over times.
Passenger Touch Points – at end of each journey, or at least after a journey with a passenger who has sneezed or coughed.
Driver Touch Points – after a journey with a passenger who sneezes or coughs or at intermittent times during the day.
Which Surfaces to Sanitise
What Parts of The Vehicle Should be Cleaned?
Passenger Touch Points - These are the surfaces your passenger touches and include:
- Door handles, both internal and external
- Passenger assist grab handles just inside the door
- Seat belts and seat belt release buttons
- Cup holders
- Window controls
- Arm rests
- Inner door lining
- Payment terminals
- Boot lid
Driver Touch Points - These are surfaces a driver frequently touches and includes:
- The key fob and keys
- Steering wheel
- Transmission shifter and handbrake
- Internal and external door handles
- Dash controls such as volume knob, heating controls, mirror adjustment
- Indicator and wiper stalks.
It's easy to get carried away cleaning the big surfaces that make your vehicle look clean but when sanitising it's the parts of your vehicle that are touched most that are important.
What to Use to Sanitise Your Vehicle.
To sanitise your vehicle use a disinfectant wipe containing at least 60% alcohol.
If disinfectant wipes are not available use household disinfectant. You can put the disinfectant in a spray bottle and spray the surface or wet a paper towel or disposable wipe and wipe the surface.
Thoroughly wipe the surfaces with the wet disinfectant wipe and allow to air dry. Do not wipe the surface with a dry cloth until the required contact time has been reached.
Contact times for disinfectants mean how long the surface needs to remain wet with the disinfectant for it to work properly. If you wet a surface down via spray bottle and immediately wipe the surface dry, it won’t be effective. No disinfectant kills on contact!
Always read the product label for the appropriate contact time, and make sure you allow that contact time to be reached and then wipe the surface down, or allow the surface to air-dry.
IF USING A NEW PRODUCT
It's always a good idea to test a new cleaning product on somewhere out of the way before you clean areas that are more visible. Avoid overly harsh a less visible cleaners (ie: bleach) which may damage your car.
Should You Use Gloves?
If disinfectant irritates your skin, use gloves.
A glove is a good preventative measure as it deters you from touching your face. A glove won’t protect you if you touch your face with the glove.
Even if you use a glove you must wash your hands after removing the glove. Always remove gloves using the safe method demonstrated in the video below.
Sunshine and Fresh Air
There have been no studies yet confirmed to prove that exposure to sunshine reduces the amount of time the COVID-19 virus will survive on a surface.
However, it's widely proven in studies on other viruses that fresh air and sunshine are a good way to reduce the life of a virus on a surface.
It's widely accepted as good practice to keep the windows down when you can, and park your vehicle in the sun.
DURING THE JOURNEY
Communicate With Your Passengers
In this unprecedented time, many people are stressed or anxious. As a professional driver, communicating respectfully and clearly with your passenger can put you both at ease. Choose topics that are uplifting if you are chatting with your passenger.
Follow your normal communication process, use positive body language. Most of all be kind and remember to smile. This is a stressful time for your elderly and more vulnerable passengers.
Can I ask passengers to apply disinfectant hand sanitiser?
While in most regions you can’t require a passenger to use hand sanitiser, you can certainly offer hand sanitiser to your passengers. You should also sanitise surfaces in your vehicle which you and your passengers touch. Regularly wash your own hands thoroughly with soap and water, or use hand sanitiser.
Can I refuse cash as payment?
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 use hand sanitiser after handling it. Always avoid touching your face with your unwashed hands.
What if the passenger isn't following the local laws?
If a passenger needs to use a commercial passenger vehicle to travel to a location for isolation, there will be laws in place in your region. Usually these will specify that the passenger:
- wear a surgical mask, if available.
- avoid direct contact with other passengers, drivers and transport staff.
- practice good hand hygiene and cough/sneeze hygiene.
- wash their hands frequently with soap and water, before and after eating, and after going to the toilet.
- cover their cough and sneeze, dispose of tissues, and use alcohol-based hand sanitiser
- and if unwell, avoid contact with others (stay more than 1.5 metres from people).
If you believe that a passenger has not taken the above precautions and you cannot provide a safe service, then it may be legal in your region for you as the driver to choose to refuse or terminate the trip. Communicate with your passenger in regards to these matters before refusing or terminating 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.
What to do if a Passenger Coughs or Sneezes in your Vehicle
- Offer your passenger a tissue, if they are not using a face mask or don't already have tissues. You could say, "would you like a tissue to cough into?"
- Offer your passenger a small disposable bag for unused tissues and/or ask them to take the used tissues with them.
- Have the windows down if possible and the air conditioning set to take in outside air.
- If you suspect your passenger is unwell, offer them a mask to wear if you have them.
- Use hand sanitiser.
- Wear a face mask yourself if you have one.
- Sanitise the vehicle at the end of the journey.
- Keep the windows down and where possible keep the car in the sunshine.
What is Social Distancing?
Social distancing is a way to stop or slow the spread of infectious diseases. It's all about less contact between you and other people to reduce the spread of germs in the workplace
Why is Social Distancing Important?
Social distancing is important because COVID-19 is most likely to spread from person-to-person through:
- direct close contact with a person while they are infectious, or in the 24 hours before their symptoms appeared.
- close contact with a person with a confirmed infection who coughs or sneezes, or
- touching objects or surfaces (such as door handles or tables) contaminated by a cough
- or sneeze from a person with a confirmed infection, and then touching your mouth or face.
The more space you keep between you and others, the harder it is for the virus to spread.
How to Implement Social Distancing?
- Stay at home if you are sick.
- Stop handshaking as a greeting.
- Promote good hand and sneeze/cough hygiene and provide hand sanitisers if possible.
- Keep as much distance as possible between each other.
- Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces regularly.
- Opening windows and adjusting air conditioning for more ventilation.
When Your Passenger Needs Assistance
You may find that some passengers may require you to get closer to them than the recommended 1.5 meters. This might happen if the person is elderly or disabled and need assistance getting into the car.
Tips on what to do...
- If the passenger is coughing or sneezing offer them a disposable face mask and/or wear a disposable face mask yourself.
- Avoid contact as much as possible.
- If there is contact, don't touch your hands to your face until you have washed or sanitised your hands.
- Wash your hands, or use hand sanitiser if you can't wash your hands with soap and water.
- Offer your passenger hand sanitiser.
Zero Contact Delivery
Sometimes clients will require you to transport a package without a passenger. This is becoming more and more common in this new environment as people are staying home and working from home. Vehicles are being repurposed to deliver items instead of passengers.
Zero contact delivery is the new normal. While the pandemic is in critical stages it is best for drivers to be distanced from the customers.
Here's a few tips to ensure you minimise risk.
From a business – Most businesses will have guidelines in place to keep drivers separate from the team. It's important to adhere to these guidelines and keep your distance.
From a customer – Ask your customer to have one point for leaving packages for no contact pick up. Wear gloves while handling the package, if you have them.
Travelling with the Item
Always keep packages in the boot or rear of the vehicle. It's important to keep your driver area sanitised as well as safe from unsecured packages.
How to physically distance yourself when delivering food or parcels to people:
- Maintain at least 1.5 metres from other people.
- Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand
- sanitiser before and after handling food deliveries or parcels.
- If using gloves, make sure you remove the gloves safely and wash your hands or use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser before and after use.
- If the customer is present place the parcel on the ground or relevant surface and step back. Don't place the parcel in the customers hands.
- If you need to leave the parcel at the door then text or call the recipient to let them know it's there.
- Utilise your phone to take pictures of the item at the agreed delivery location.
Proper Hand-Washing Protocol
Washing your hands with soap and water is one of our cheapest forms of infection control, and also one of the most effective. It significantly helps to prevent and slow the spread of infection.
Hand washing is one way we can each play our part in helping to slow or reduce the spread of the virus — and protect ourselves and others.
- Clean your hands regularly.
- Wash your hands with soap and water, and dry them thoroughly, preferably with a disposable towel.
- Use alcohol-based hand sanitiser if you don’t have immediate access to soap and water.
How to wash your hands properly
Even if you get the virus on your hands, you can avoid becoming infected by washing your hands before you touch your face, mouth or eyes. It's a good idea to wash and disinfect your hands more frequently than usual. Most health Authorities advise a minimum of 20seconds. Use the diagram below to brush up on your hand washing routine.
When to wash your hands
You should wash your hands after visiting public spaces, to remove any germs you may have picked up from contaminated surfaces.
Wash your hands after doing the following:
- after you blow your nose, cough or sneeze.
- after you have had close physical contact with anyone who is unwell.
- after you use the toilet (especially as evidence suggests COVID-19 may spread via faecal transmission).
- before and after you eat.
- before, during and after you prepare food.
- after you feed or touch a pet.
- after you touch a surface that was touched or coughed/sneezed on by a person who may be unwell.
Why Soap is Best As The First Defence
COVID-19 is what's known as an "envelope virus", which means it's relatively easy to kill compared to some other viruses.
Coronavirus particles are surrounded by a fatty outer layer (made up of lipid molecules) called an envelope, which falls apart on contact with soap.
The idea of hand washing is not to kill the germs, but to remove them from your hand.
Whether it's liquid soap or bar soap, it doesn't really matter – as long as it lathers well. When there's no water at hand, a hand sanitiser or gel that contains at least 60 per cent alcohol is ideal. Aim to rub in a generous amount into your hand for about 20 seconds, particularly on your fingertips.
With an increase in hand-washing practices, you might find your hands are dryer than normal. Any kind of hand-cream or lotion is safe to use, so long as it's applied after you have cleaned your hands and removed potential pathogens and germs. Never use this as an alternative to clean your hands.
If you are finding liquid pump soap or hand sanitisers in short supply in the stores, opt for an
old-fashioned bar of soap. This will have the SAME effect as any other soap product.
Simple Steps To Stop The Spread
Here are some practical personal hygiene tips:
- Avoid touching your mouth, eyes, and nose with unwashed (or gloved) hands.
- Wash your hands regularly throughout the day or use hand sanitiser.
- Wash body, and hair (including facial hair) thoroughly every day.
- Wash your hands after coming into contact with money.
- Cover your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing with a tissue or a flexed elbow. Put tissues in the bin.
- When coming home from work. Remove your clothes immediately and get them ready for washing.
- Wash your hands and then shower before touching other areas of your home or family members.
- Avoid touching other surfaces in your home with unclean hands.