Taxi customers don’t have to use check-in code when in taxi

10 August 2021

A dangerous oversight that means taxi customers don’t have to check-in using a QR code has resulted in a taxi driver being infectious in the community for 10 days because he was not identified as a close contact of an infected pilot.

Authorities revealed yesterday that the cab driver caught the virus from a passenger – a Cairns marine pilot who tested positive to the virus early last week.

It is not clear why the taxi driver was not identified as a close contact during contact tracing efforts with Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young saying it is not always possible to catch everyone.

Despite calls from the Taxi Council of Queensland for the use of QR codes to be mandated in cabs like has been done in other states the government is yet to act.

While Health Minister Yvette D’Ath stopped short of saying she would implement the change she said the government was always looking at ways to strengthen its contact tracing system to keep Queenslanders safe.

However, The Courier-Mail understands work is underway to expand the app to taxis and ride shares.

Griffith University virologist Professor Nigel McMillan said it was a no-brainer to introduce QR codes into cabs.

Taxi Council of Queensland chief executive Blair Davies said that it would be standard procedure for Cairns Taxis to hand over GPS tracking information for the routes taken by the taxi as well as details of fares through either phone or app bookings or receipts from electronic payment.

“We would be pretty confident that the information from the booking company should make the contract tracers’ job a lot easier because Cairns Taxis tend to do a high proportion of booked jobs and are less likely to be hailed on the street,” Mr Davies told The Courier-Mail.

Mr Davies said Queensland was one of the few states left in Australia which had not brought in QR codes in taxis, something the Queensland taxi industry called for last week.

Mr Davies said the call was made last week in order to support the fight to control Covid-19 and to make the taxi industry’s contribution to keeping the state moving.

QR codes have been compulsory in Victorian taxis since late June and in NSW, SA and the ACT since July.

Mr Davies said Cairns Taxis had been proactive with their sanitisation program.

He said taxi drivers were hard hit by lockdowns and he had been lobbying government to recognise them as a priority for vaccination.

“We estimate a significant number of our cabbies are already vaccinated but you want as many as you possibly can to get the jab,” Mr Davies said.

“Wheelchair taxi drivers for example come in close contact with people from an at-risk community,” Mr Davies said.

“We want to keep our drivers safe as well as those segments of our customer base who are vulnerable,” he said.