Great Britain

Chaffeur-driven passengers exempt from mandatory face mask rule

New face mask rules for taxi passengers will not apply to those in chauffeur-driven cars, Downing Street has said. 

Boris Johnson announced further restrictions for England on Tuesday in a bid to stop the spread of coronavirus, including expanded rules over when face coverings should be worn. 

The new restrictions included a rule stating passengers in taxis and private hire vehicles would have to wear face masks.

However, No10 said this rule would not apply to passengers in chauffeur-driven cars - although the driver's employer would have to ensure they could work safely.

The UK prime minister’s official spokesperson said: "The employer of the chauffeur will have to make sure that their employees can work in a Covid-secure way."

When pressed if chauffeurs are covered by the new law, the spokesman said: "The important point to make is the driver of a licensed vehicle will be picking up a wide variety of customers throughout the day but it's important to protect the driver from being infected from a significant number of different people.

They added: "The scenario that you're describing, that person would only be a single individual around so I don't think they're comparable."

The spokesperson said he would check whether the rule applies to ministers being driven around in ministerial cars.

The new rule requiring taxi passengers to wear face masks came into force on Wednesday.

Mr Johnson said earlier this week people will have to start wearing face masks in pubs, restaurants and other hospitality venues while moving around the site - but not when sat at tables - from Thursday.

People working in hospitality and retail will also have to wear a face coverings from Thursday.

Mr Johnson announced a doubling of fines to £200 for a first offence for anyone who breaks the mask-wearing rules or the "rule-of-six".

On top of these expanded face mask rules, the UK prime minister also revealed a curfew for pubs and restaurants in England and told office workers in the country to work from home where possible. 

New coronavirus infections topped 6,100 in the UK on Wednesday - the highest daily total since the start of May.

Additional reporting by Press Association

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