Taxi industry says Cabbies deserve priority for COVID-19 vaccine

Media Release
February 19, 2021 

With the COVID-19 vaccination set to roll out nationally within the coming days, the taxi industry has appealed to the Commonwealth and State Governments to prioritise its drivers for COVID-19 vaccinations for the collective benefit of the community.

The peak industry body, the Australian Taxi Industry Association, has recommended a similar approach be adopted to the one implemented by the US Centre for Disease Control (CDC) whereby taxi drivers and other public transit drivers are recognised as essential frontline workers.

This does not place taxi drivers ahead of the elderly, frontline medical and quarantine staff, but rather in the next high-priority category.

Mr Blair Davies, CEO of the Taxi Council of Queensland (TCQ) says, just as in the US, taxi drivers should be included in Phase 1B of the rollout, recognising them as ‘essential frontline workers’. He believes taxi drivers logically fall into this group as they provide essential mobility services for many vulnerable people in the community.

“The taxi industry has approximately 12,000 drivers in Queensland who routinely may come into close and sustained contact with people at higher risk and vulnerability in regard to COVID-19,” he explains.

“The taxi industry is the only segment within Queensland’s Personalised Transport sector that has wheelchair accessible vehicles and these drivers obviously come into particularly close contact with passengers who need assistance due to disability. Securing wheelchairs and assisting with seatbelts is integral to these services being provided safely, but it puts our drivers in very close contact with passengers who may fall into the highest risk categories,” says Mr Davies.

Providing further supporting argument for taxi drivers to receive priority vaccination, was the recent incident of a Brisbane man who was twice made to get a cab from hospital to hotel quarantine, while not knowing his COVID status.

“We have queried a recent Government directive that taxi drivers can be required to transport passengers to quarantine and are awaiting a response,” Mr Davies said. “From an industry perspective, we want to make sure that cabbies can earn an income safely, whilst also minimising any risk for our passengers. If the Government expects taxi drivers to be transporting people to quarantine, they should be making vaccination available to cabbies as a high priority.”

Mr Davies says the TCQ notes that the Brisbane City Council has called for bus drivers to be considered a priority and that makes good sense. Bus drivers and taxi drivers are both very much on the frontline when it comes to providing essential mobility services for local communities.

“The rules clearly state that priority groups are to be identified by considering the public health, medical and epidemiological evidence on who would be most affected if they contracted COVID-19,” said Mr Davies. “Clearly, taxi drivers and bus drivers warrant priority under that logic and so hopefully we will see a decision along those lines from Queensland Health very, very soon”.