ST HELENS Council says those with exemptions do not have to wear face coverings while travelling in taxis as some drivers expressed confusion after being presented with 'No Mask No Ride' stickers for their vehicles.

Taxi operators in St Helens received two stickers to display in the back passenger windows to be visible to the public.

It has been law for passengers to wear face coverings on public transport, including taxis, although some people are exempt from doing so.

It is understood some taxi drivers felt confusion after they received the stickers from the local authority. These were accompanied by a letter from the licensing and land charges manager stating: "Please remember that if a passenger is not wearing a mask then they cannot enter your vehicle".

They questioned whether it may lead to discrimination against passengers with disabilities if they were unable to transport people not wearing masks.

One said: "We are asking for some clarity as we're all confused. We've got to be mindful of people with exemptions.

"If I have someone with a guide dog, if I knock them back without an exemption certificate, I commit an offence (under the Equalities Act)."

When asked by the Star, a council spokesperson acknowledged there will be some people the message does not apply to.

They added the authority would encourage taxi operators to "use their discretion and understanding" when it is not possible for a passenger to wear a face covering.

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A St Helens Council spokesperson said: "The mask awareness vehicle stickers created for taxi drivers are to help them remind passengers that for most people face coverings should be worn in taxis at all time.

"There will be some people this message will not apply to, but the aim of the stickers is an easy way to support drivers encourage those that can to wear a face covering to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 both for themselves and the drivers.

"We would always encourage operators when taking bookings to use their discretion and understanding when it may not be possible for someone to wear a face covering due to their age, health or disability and have recently issued guidance relating to this."

They added: "Many drivers had raised the issue of having no signs in their vehicles to assist them when dealing with the public so this was created to provide a visible support as they continue to carry out their work at a challenging time during the ongoing pandemic.

"We are proud of our taxi community and how they have adapted to provide continued support through these difficult times."