Business slow for Moncton taxi drivers as COVID-19 restrictions eased

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Navigating through the COVID-19 pandemic has been a rough ride for some Moncton cab drivers.

“It’s pretty slow,” said Michael Bass, who drives a taxi for Air Cab. “A lot of drivers on the road and not too much customers.”

Business dropped by at least 80 per cent at the start of the pandemic, said Bass.

Read more: New Brunswick reports no new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday

But customer traffic is slowly picking up as restrictions are loosened, he said.

Business has stalled at the airport where there are far fewer flights due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

“There are no tourists and no airport, no flights and people are not coming from other provinces and people are not going out as they did before the pandemic,” he said.

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The financial hit has been particularly hard on his family because both he and his wife are taxi drivers, he said.

“Now if you are going to Main Street it is almost empty,” said Bass.

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Air Cab’s fleet was down by at least 65 per cent at the start of the pandemic.

Jonathan McNally, who manages the Moncton cab company, said drivers parked their cars over fears about contracting the virus.

“For a while, we were very short on vehicles and drivers were incredibly busy,” he said.

But as restrictions are lifted and more drivers return to work, cabbies are now competing for what little business there’s left, said Christopher Henry, who drives for White Cab.

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“It is still pretty slow. There is probably maybe 70 per cent of what it was,” said Henry.

Henry drives a wheelchair-accessible van and said he caters primarily to people with accessibility requirements.

But his van is out of commission for a few days following a fender bender. It’s just another blow during an already trying time, he said.

“My actual income is probably about half of what it used to be,” he said.

Read more: New Brunswick is giving $3 million in rebates to residents who staycation in the province

Henry said that he isn’t able to collect the CERB benefit because he chose to keep driving and helping those who needed it.

“I have a responsibility to my clients. They have to get to their medical appointments and mostly dialysis and I can’t let them down,” he said.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

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To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus. In some provinces and municipalities across the country, masks or face coverings are now mandatory in indoor public spaces.

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