A north-east taxi firm has returned to the roads after closing temporarily to fit cars with plywood screens to ease coronavirus concerns.
Elgin-based A2B Cabs stopped taking fares for more than two weeks while owner Iain Emslie feared his fleet may inadvertently spread the virus between drivers and passengers.
However, after installing the hefty protective screens himself the businessman has resumed trading with a reduced compliment of five vehicles.
Yesterday, Mr Emslie explained taking his cars off the road was the only option he could see to take at the time once social distancing guidelines had been imposed.
He said: “I had to put safety first. I wouldn’t ask my drivers to do anything I wouldn’t do myself – the same goes for passengers too.
“It’s been a fairly substantial job. It’s not a five-minute job. It took me two and half weeks to do the three of them.
“We’re predominantly doing supermarket runs and hospital trips at the moment and doing a bit of home delivering. They’re essential trips for some people but safety for passengers and staff always comes first, we clean vehicles with disinfectant after every trip.”
The wooden barriers have been installed in three of A2B’s cars with documents lodged with Moray Council to register another vehicle that already has a plastic screen as a taxi.
The fifth member of the reduced fleet, which ordinarily has 25 vehicles, formerly operated as a London cab and came fitted with a protective barrier.
Concerns have been raised about the taxi trade across the north and north-east during the lockdown with some firms taking their vehicles completely off the road while others have been seen to continue collecting fares as normal.
Scottish Government guidance has been that travel is allowed if it is consistent with social distancing rules.
Mr Emslie explained his conscience would not have let him allow his drivers to operate with the modifications.
He said: “It amazes me that there are still taxi drivers out there having people sitting next to them. Where’s the social distancing there?
“At least with the screens you are not making contact. Our vehicles take card payments but for people who don’t want to there’s a hatch for cash.”