SINGAPORE - All taxi and private-hire drivers must undergo weekly Covid-19 testing from Nov 1, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) told The Straits Times on Thursday (Oct 28).
For practical reasons, they will be allowed to self-test using antigen rapid test (ART) kits at their convenience. Drivers are provided with the kits.
Explaining why mandatory testing for these drivers was not rolled out earlier, LTA said: "As drivers are self-employed and have varied work schedules, operators needed more time to reach out to them to coordinate testing arrangements."
LTA added that as taxi and private-hire drivers need to drive to various locations in the course of their work, they will not have to go back to their operators' offices to undergo employer-supervised testing.
Based on the number of valid vocational licences held as at August, the testing regime would apply to 96,690 taxi drivers and 49,375 private-hire drivers.
Welcoming this move, Ms Tammy Tan, ComfortDelGro's group chief branding and communications officer, said: "As cabbies have been identified as being part of a key community group requiring routine Covid-19 testing, we have started distributing the ART kits provided by the Government to all our cabbies at three distribution points."
She added that ComfortDelGro drivers will be required to share their test results with the company through its driver app.
Mr Terence Zou, chief executive of ride-hailing company Ryde, said the firm started distributing ART kits to selected fully vaccinated private-hire drivers on Tuesday (Oct 26).
He added: "This is to detect and ring-fence infections in the community early."
Private-hire and taxi drivers are the latest front liners to adopt mandatory Covid-19 testing.
Since Sept 27 when the stabilisation phase began, rostered routine testing has been progressively extended to staff working in settings which involve frequent community interactions.
These include retail mall establishments, supermarkets, last-mile delivery workers and public and private transport workers, said Enterprise Singapore.
Delivery platform foodpanda told The Straits Times that it has been working with the Government to implement mandatory testing for its riders since mid-October.
Its riders are required to take Covid-19 tests at quick test centres.
A foodpanda spokesman said: "As our riders work hard to deliver hot meals, groceries and more, it is crucial to ensure that riders are regularly tested to help keep the community safe."
Parcel delivery personnel have also been required to undergo mandatory fast and easy testing rostered routine testing (RRT) since September.
"In parallel, the sector is also in the process of rolling out the vaccinate or regular testing regime," said Mr Wei Chuen Chua, Economic Development Board vice-president and head of supply chain and connectivity.
Mr Nathaniel Yim, co-founder of logistics platform Janio, said the firm registered all its delivery drivers for the eight-week RRT regime. This regime requires employees who go to the workplace to self-test for Covid-19 over that period using ART kits.
Janio began the voluntary exercise from Oct 4 and will provide additional ART kits to its drivers if required, Mr Yim added.
SingPost, which is currently involved in two nationwide distribution exercises of ART kits and a mouth gargle to fight Covid-19, said it has progressively introduced a weekly testing regime for its postmen since Sept 16.
A spokesman said: "Front-line staff are issued ART kits every week, and they are required to test themselves while supervised by their superiors. If they are unable to report to our facilities in person, the test must be conducted with their supervisor virtually via Zoom or other digital teleconferencing platforms."