Taxi, limo drivers in Nova Scotia brace for COVID-19

A Halifax limo driver says he and his staff are taking extra precautions as they pick up snowbirds returning home to Canada.

Snowbirds are Canadians who spend their winters down south, in places like Florida. Many are anxious to get home to get ahead of a restriction on non-essential travel across the border. When they arrive back in Nova Scotia, they’ll have to spend 14 days in self-isolation. 

“It’s a big concern for sure,” said Habib Habib, founder of Crystal Limo.

To ensure his safety, he has hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes in his vehicle and wears gloves and a mask.

He said he gives his car a thorough cleaning between pickups.

“This is the best we can do. We ask our clients, in a gentle way, if they’re healthy,” Habib said, who employs three drivers.

As of Wednesday, there were three confirmed and nine presumptive cases of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia.

Habib Habib disinfects the back of his limo between clients. (CBC)

So far, Habib said he hasn’t had any issues yet. He said his passengers have been really appreciative he’s still out on the road.

Habib said he and other drivers are keeping up with COVID-19 updates and hoping relief is in sight. He estimates his business is down by 95 per cent.

“We are self-employed. If we don’t work, we have no income. We still have expenses. We hope we get some program support from the government to help small business people,” he said.

In New Waterford, N.S., a taxi company is offering to help people get supplies to see them through the COVID-19 pandemic.

When Chuck Ogley and Elizabeth Doyle opened District 11 Taxi and Delivery two years ago, the community was quick to support the new business. Now, they want to give back.

Beginning on Friday, they’ll start offering free delivery of grocery orders to people who are self-isolating.

“There’s probably six or seven seniors complexes in New Waterford. And that’s where I’d say most of it will be going,” said Ogley.

They’ve also received calls from former residents who are living away, but who want to ensure their parents back home are taken care of, said Doyle.

Free rides to grocery store on Friday

District 11 Taxi is also offering free rides to and from the local grocery store and pharmacies this Friday, which is the day the Canada child benefit and some other government cheques are issued.

“It’s the biggest shopping day of the month,” said Ogley. “And I mean if we can save them $15, $20 to get extra supplies, well then, that’s what we’re going to do.”

The couple plan to devote one of their three taxis to making the free trips on Friday.

They’ll use their personal car to make the free deliveries and will continue that service as needed.

If they find they aren’t able to meet the demand, they’ll seek volunteers to share some of the load.

“And I’m sure, same as New Waterford always, there will be people there to help,” said Ogley.

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