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Value Cabs increasing number of cars in bid to battle Covid-19

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Appeal: Christopher McCausland

Appeal: Christopher McCausland

Appeal: Christopher McCausland

Value Cabs is putting more cars on the road to help maintain a two-passenger limit in line with social distancing guidelines.

It has already installed screens between drivers and passengers in 100 cars.

Vehicles are also cleaned between journeys and hand sanitiser provided.

The Belfast-based firm said business had plummeted since lockdown was introduced to counter Covid-19.

Driver numbers fell from 800 before the coronavirus to just 100 but have recently climbed back up to 180.

Value Cabs managing director Christopher McCausland, who is also the senior vice-president of the Belfast Chamber, called for the city to be reopened for business as soon as was safely possible.

To help it get through the collapse in the sector, Mr McCausland's company secured a loan through Danske Bank and the government's coronavirus business interruption loan scheme. He said other firms should apply for the loans if they were eligible to do so.

Brian Shane, corporate banking manager at Danske Bank, said the lender was pleased to support the business during lockdown.

While Value Cabs' contracts with corporate clients, hotels, bars, restaurants and more are on hold, the business is still fulfilling its health service contracts, such as transporting dialysis patients.

"We are trying to keep things as normal as we can, but we are also adapting in order to keep drivers, staff and passengers as safe as possible," Mr McCausland explained.

"Screens between drivers and passengers have been installed in 100 taxis so far.

"We are restricting bookings to two passengers only in the rear of the car.

"Cars will also be cleaned between journeys and hand sanitiser made available.

"We're doing what we can to get ready for an extended period of social distancing."

He added: "However, we need to see the city get back to being open and (we need) to get tourists back into the city as soon as possible.

"A lot of the growth in Belfast's economy during the last five or six years has been from tourism. That has helped drive business for hotels, restaurants and hospitality."

Value Cabs has waived or cut fees for its self-employed drivers for a month.

Staff still working pay reduced rent and those off the road pay none at all.

The company is also increasing the number of taxis that it can operate.

Belfast Telegraph