Coronavirus: Safety top of mind for Regina cab driver during COVID-19 pandemic

Doug Seibel has experienced a lot in his 50 years as a Regina cab driver, but nothing has been like operating during a global pandemic, he says.

“We’ve had other flus you don’t worry about too much, but with all this going on, it’s scary,” he said of his work.

“You’re so confined in the car that you get people coughing, sneezing, everything — they don’t cover their mouths.”

The 71-year-old said he recently had a customer who was coughing so close that he could feel it on his neck. When he asked the patron to cover their mouth, he said they made fun of him.

Seibel, whose age puts him at increased risk for COVID-19,  said he is now meticulously wiping down the interior and door handles of his car between every customer.

“I go out there, because the fact is I gotta make money and there’s people who need rides, especially the elderly — to the hospital, the doctor, wherever,” he said.

As of Tuesday, there are 72 COVID-19 cases in Saskatchewan. Some non-essential businesses, including cab services, are still allowed to operate amid other COVID-19 safety measures.

While the provincial governments says it’s taking its lead from medical health officers, the leader of the opposition NDP has called for non-essential work to stop.

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Seibel told Global News with the choice to work, he has to continue even if other drivers have stopped working and business is slow.

“I have to pay the company so much per month,” he said. “Most people lease their cars and they still have to pay the company regardless.”

He recalled a day last week where, after fueling up, he said he earned $17.

Seibel said he wants a clear commitment from government to help taxi drivers, not necessarily brokers, along with a plan to accommodate the elderly clients who can’t easily access public transit.

Home cleaning businesses adapting to concerns

Another non-essential industry navigating health and safety measures is residential cleaning.

Wendy Koch, owner and operator of Complete Clean, said residential business has “pretty much come to a stop,” but commercial work has kept them afloat.

“We’ll do new house builds, new construction cleaning and office cleaning,” she said, adding workers wear gloves and masks.

Koch’s business also implemented strict physical distancing policies, in accordance with provincial recommendations, about two weeks ago.

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