Taxi firms and car-hailing platforms in Beijing will face a circuit-breaker mechanism as a punishment if they fail to take coronavirus control measures effectively, Beijing authorities warned on Monday, the first day that the capital made it compulsory for passengers to scan health QR codes to use ride-hailing platforms and taxis.
The move is a response to drivers repeatedly testing positive for the coronavirus.
One driver for Didi surnamed Yuan told the Global Times he had about 10 passengers on Monday morning, all of whom were quite cooperative about scanning the health QR code. Yuan said the measures could help to curb infection by passengers.
As well as requiring passengers to scan their QR codes, the driver also tells passengers to wear masks and the windows of the car remain open throughout the journey.
However, some drivers and passengers reached by the Global Times thought the measures were just formalistic.
"In actual practice, showing health status is more like formalism because passengers scan their QR code after getting into the car,” said a driver surnamed Ji from Didi. “If the passenger fails to show their health status, we have the right to kick them out but maybe it is too late by that point.”
A resident surnamed Xu in Chaoyang district also told the Global Times on Monday that he was not asked to scan his health code when taking a taxi via Didi on Monday morning.
“The health QR code is attached on the window inside the taxi,” he said, noting that the driver didn’t ask him to scan the code.
As an effort to curb the spread of the disease, Didi and its subsidiary app Huaxiaozhu on Monday asked drivers to upload photos of them wearing masks before they start working, the platform told the Global Times on Monday.
They will conduct random inspections via on-board equipment to see if drivers are wearing their masks.
At the same time, the two car-hailing platforms will organize for drivers in Beijing to receive coronavirus vaccines starting from Wednesday. The vaccination is expected to completed within a week.
If they fail to take coronavirus control measures effectively, including wearing masks and disinfecting their vehicles properly, taxi firms and car-hailing platforms in Beijing will face punishment in accordance with the circuit-breaker mechanism, Xu Hejian, an official from the Beijing municipal government, said at the Monday press conference.
Because of the number of drivers testing positive, Didi was fined 1.07 million yuan ($165,240) for not abiding by epidemic prevention rules, and Huaxiaozhu was fined 340,000 yuan, according to the Beijing authorities.
Beijing reported one driver working at a ride-hailing platform in Beijing’s Shunyi district tested positive over the weekend. His case forced local authorities to track down at least 144 passengers as close contacts.
Previously, several other car-hailing drivers were confirmed as COVID-19 patients in the district.
According to the driver Ji, car hailing drivers usually rent houses in Shunyi district because the house prices there are cheap and it is close to the airport. This is partly why there have been a number of infections in the district.