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Taxi, private-hire drivers and passengers encouraged to wear masks although no longer mandatory: LTA

Masks will be optional on private transport such as taxis, school buses and private bus services from Aug 29, says the Ministry of Health.

Taxi, private-hire drivers and passengers encouraged to wear masks although no longer mandatory: LTA

File photo of cars and other vehicles at a traffic junction in Singapore. (Photo: CNA/Jeremy Long)

SINGAPORE: The Land Transport Authority (LTA) is encouraging drivers and passengers of taxi and private-hire operators to continue wearing masks, even though it will no longer be a requirement to do so from next Monday (Aug 29).

"While no longer mandatory, drivers and passengers are encouraged to continue to wear their masks to protect themselves and others, especially if drivers are ferrying passengers who are unwell," LTA said in response to CNA's queries on Wednesday.

Echoing LTA's advice, Gojek, Premier Taxis and Strides Mobility said they encourage passengers and drivers to continue wearing masks.

"While no longer a requirement, driver-partners and customers are encouraged to continue to wear a mask if they prefer to do so, especially if they feel unwell," Gojek told CNA. 

“We remain fully committed to the health, safety and welfare of all our users and continue to remind them to remain vigilant and observe good hygiene practices, helping to ensure a safe ride environment for all.”

Premier Taxis said it will continue to encourage both drivers and passengers to wear a mask to protect themselves and others, especially if they are feeling unwell.

Strides Mobility also encouraged its drivers to take precautionary measures like winding down the windows whenever possible, said its senior general manager Yeow How Pheng. 

Meanwhile, Grab told CNA it "strongly encourages" both driver-partners and passengers to continue exercising personal social responsibility, adding that they should wear a mask if they feel unwell.

The ride-hailing firm also encouraged driver-partners to increase the ventilation of vehicles by avoiding the use of recirculation mode of the air-conditioning system, and to regularly clean and disinfect their vehicles.

"If agreeable by the passengers and partners, wind down windows to improve air ventilation," it added. 

ComfortDelGro, Singapore's largest taxi operator, pointed to the Land Transport Authority's (LTA) Facebook page when asked about the company's policy on mask-wearing.

LTA's Facebook post reiterated the announcement by the Health Ministry that masks will be optional from Aug 29, except on public buses and trains, as well as indoor public transport settings such as boarding areas within bus interchanges and after passing through fare gates at underground MRT stations.

Masks will be optional on private transport modes such as taxis, school buses and private bus services.

TADA declined to comment.

Besides public transport, mask-wearing will still be required in healthcare facilities, residential care homes and ambulances.

Explaining the requirement for masks in these places, co-chair of the COVID-19 task force Lawrence Wong said these are "areas where essential services are being carried out in enclosed and crowded spaces, and which are frequently used by vulnerable persons".

Responding to a reporter's question about whether employers can mandate masks at the workplace, Mr Wong said businesses have the discretion to decide. 

"That option remains because we are lifting the mandatory requirement for mask-wearing. But it is optional, employers may choose to decide. For that matter, in certain settings, industry regulators might also decide that it is a safety requirement," he added.

For instance, food handlers will still have to wear masks or a spit guard.

On flights, mask-wearing requirements will depend on the rules or laws in the destination country as well as the airline. 

Singapore Airlines said on Wednesday that its passengers will not be required to wear masks on flights from Aug 29 unless they are travelling to and from destinations that mandate it.

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Source: CNA/ng(gs)
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