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Licensing news and updates


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News and updates

27 March 2020 - Covid - 19 Hertfordshire County Council Business Support 

Please click here for information in relation to support for businesses in Hertforshire.


  • 26 March 2020 - COVID-19 Licensing issues: Coronavirus Act 2020 now in force and further updates to the Businesses and premises closures guidance

Coronavirus Act 2020 is now in force.

View the Act

COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization on 11 March. DHSC has a clear plan for a phased response, guided by clinical and scientific advice, as set out in the coronavirus action plan. 

Updates to the Businesses and premises closures guidance updated (26 March)

This document supports the government’s guidance on staying at home. It provides full guidance on the government’s announcement made on 23 March 2020 and the list of businesses and premises expected to close.

View guidance (version from 26 March)

Updates to the document so far:

26 March 2020- Updated guidance.

25 March 2020 - Added guidance on work carried out in people’s homes and additional details to the list of businesses and premises that must remain closed.

23 March 2020 - First published.

  • 25 March 2020 - COVID-19 Update from Department of Transport: Taxis and PHVs

Taxis and private hire vehicles can continue to work. But the advice is absolutely clear - people should stay at home if possible. That is the way to save lives and protect our NHS. The public should avoid travel unless absolutely essential. The only reasons to leave our houses are set out in the government guidance.

Clearly if absolutely necessary to travel by taxi or private hire vehicle, best efforts should be used to follow the guidance as far as is practically possible, including washing your hands as soon as you get home.

Critical Worker Status
Taxi and private hire drivers should not generally be considered Critical Workers. Those undertaking Home to School transport or the transport of ‘extremely vulnerable’ people may be considered Critical Workers on a case-by-case basis. Critical Workers should also whenever possible make suitable arrangements for their children to stay at home; requests for children to attend school should be discussed with the school.”
  • 25 March 2020 - COVID-19 Licensing issues: Businesses and premises closures: guidance updated 

The guidance relating to business and premises closures has been updated today (25 March), setting out a more detailed list of closures and exceptions.  'Off-licences and licenced shops selling alcohol, including those within breweries' are included within the exceptions and can remain open.

The updated guidance also clearly states that takeaway and delivery services should remain open and operational, meaning people can continue to access takeaway services (including delivery drivers), although businesses are encouraged to use online and telephone delivery services as a preferred option.  There is also reference to the changes to planning regulation to enable this.

Link to the full updated guidance.


  • 24 March 2020 - VE Day Celebration extension shelved 

The Government had previously announced its intention to extend opening hours for licensed premises for VE Day in May and have consulted on an extension for VJ day in August. However, given the official advice to limit the spread of Covid-19, these plans will not  proceed.   The national commemoration events to mark VE Day 75 will be scaled back in order to protect the health and wellbeing of the Second World War generation and members of the public.

As this is a developing situation, if circumstances allow leading up to VJ day, premises may wish to apply for a Temporary Event Notice to extend their opening hours.

The UK Government and the Devolved Administrations are working on new plans to ensure the public can still thank the Second World War generation on VE Day in May and provide the fitting tribute they deserve.


  • 20 March 2020 - Pubs, Bars, Cafe's & Restaraunts to close with immediate effect

Following the announcement from the Prime Minister ALL pubs, clubs, bars a restaraunts are to close with immediate effect unless they can offer a takeaway food service. This must not include alcohol sales unless 'OFF SALES' is already included on the current licence. All off sales of alcohol must be in a sealed container.

For further details & information go to https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-sets-out-plans-to-enforce-closure-of-businesses-and-other-venues--2.


  • 19 March 2020 - Update from the Institute of Licensing

Can Hackney carriage and private hire drivers refuse to carry certain passengers through fear of infection?

The starting point here is that as there are no scheduled services for hackney carriages or private hire vehicles (unlike buses and trains) there is actually no requirement on a hackney carriage or private hire driver to be working. That is very simplistic approach, and it is appreciated that they need to make a living as much as everybody else. It will be for each individual driver to decide whether they are prepared to take the risks associated with providing hackney carriage and private hire services.

In relation to the driver themselves, they should not work if they have a new continuous cough and/or a high fever and should at that point self-isolate (https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/coronavirus-covid-19-list-of-guidance).

A driver of a hackney carriage or private hire vehicle, hackney carriage and private hire vehicle proprietors and private hire operators, whether self-employed or employees, have responsibilities under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to both themselves and those who are likely to come into contact with their business (sections 2, 3 & 4).

Therefore, the driver and proprietor of the vehicle both have a responsibility to ensure, to the best of their ability, that the vehicle is safe. Whilst that usually relates to mechanical safety, clearly environmental safety is also vital. They should already have a Health and Safety Policy in place. It may have been necessary to amend this to incorporate a risk assessment relating to the coronavirus which clearly survives on surfaces for a significant period of time.

Ideally every vehicle should be disinfected after every hiring, but this is clearly not practically possible. However, it would be possible to ensure that some form of cleaning of obvious areas takes place - door handles, seat belts and buckles and any other obvious hard surface that may have been touched by a passenger. This would include areas that may have been infected following a passenger coughing or sneezing such as physical divisions between the front and rear of the vehicle, the rear of front seats and so on. The guidance from the Government is

 "frequently clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that are touched regularly, using your standard cleaning products"

 (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/guidance-for-employers-and-businesses-on-coronavirus-covid-19).

Beyond that there is a divergence between hackney carriages and private hire vehicles.

Hackney Carriages
The driver of a hackney carriage that is standing for hire (that is at a taxi rank or elsewhere on the highway) can only refuse a hiring for a journey within the district if they have a reasonable excuse (section 53 Town Police Clauses Act 1847 ("the 1847 Act" outside London; section 35 London Hackney Carriage Act 1831 and section 7 London Hackney Carriage Act 1853 in London)). It would seem to be a reasonable excuse to refuse to carry a potential passenger who has obvious symptoms of coronavirus, but drivers must be careful. Assumptions about potential victims should not be made, and certainly should not be based on crude racial stereotyping. It would be difficult to see how a driver could refuse to carry a passenger who was not displaying symptoms in these circumstances.

In those circumstances (standing for hire) a driver can legitimately refuse to take any hiring which would be for a destination outside the district (unless there are local exemptions to that).

There is no requirement placed upon a hackney carriage driver who is plying for hire (i.e. cruising) to respond to any hailing by a prospective passenger (see Hunt v Morgan [1948] 2 All ER 1065 QBD).

Private Hire Vehicles
A private hire operator is under no obligation to enter into a contract to provide a private hire vehicle for anybody, provided any such refusal is not based on a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010 (section 4 - age; disability; gender reassignment; marriage and civil partnership; pregnancy and maternity; race; religion or belief; sex; sexual orientation).

Once the booking is been accepted, there is a contract in place to provide a vehicle for that hiring. If on arriving at the pickup point, the driver sees that the passenger is displaying obvious symptoms of coronavirus then they may feel it is not safe to carry that passenger. The driver would need to discuss that with the operator, because the contract for hire is between the hirer and the operator (there is also a contract between the operator and the driver which will need to be considered as well).

A pre-booked hackney carriage is similar to this, but the contract may have been made directly with the driver rather than a 3rd party booking agent.

Conclusions
A great many people work in the hackney carriage and private hire industries and even more people rely on hackney carriages and private hire vehicles to transport them. Whilst there may well have been a significant downturn in this activity as a result of this crisis, hackney carriages and private hire vehicles will still remain a vital form of transport for many, including to and from hospitals, GPs and to go shopping.

No activity is risk-free: the key is to take all sensible reasonable precautions to protect both drivers and passengers.


  • Covid-19/Coronavirus:

Please see here information (pdf) that was sent out by email today to all licensed drivers and operators. If you did not receive this email then it is likely that the licensing team does not have an up to date email address for you. Please email licensing.team@threerivers.gov.uk to provide a correct email address.


  • Changes to Hackney Carriage and private hire knowledge test:

 As of 1st May 2020 the knowledge test that applicants for driver licenses (private hire and Hackney Carriage) have to pass will be changing format. Please see the knowledge test page for more information.


  • Mandatory Safeguarding training: 

Three Rivers District Council is committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children, young people and adults at risk. As a taxi or private hire vehicle driver, you may observe incidents that nobody else does – so we believe it is crucial that our licensees are equipped with the basic skills and knowledge necessary to identify and respond appropriately to safeguarding concerns. Therefore, as of 1st April 2020 all new applicants applying for a Hackney Carriage / Private Hire driver licence or Private Hire Operator licence as well as current holders of Hackney Carriage and private hire driver and operator licences are required to complete a Safeguarding course and provide the licensing department with the pass certificate which will be attached to their record. This is mandatory. Any person who has previously successfully passed an accredited Safeguarding course may provide the Licensing Department with proof of this in the form of their pass certificate for the licensing officer to consider.


  • email.pngEmails: 

We are striving to go paperless and are therefore phasing out paper correspondence in favour of electronic communication and documents. Please email us at licensing.team@threerivers.gov.uk to provide us with an up to date email address and to acknowledge that future correspondence will be sent by email.