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Free rides available to COVID-19 testing sites in Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia Health can arrange taxis with “enhanced cleaning procedures” for those without cars

2 min read
caption Nova Scotia Health is providing taxis through 811 to those without vehicles in Nova Scotia.
Simon Smith

Nova Scotians without vehicles can get a free ride to a COVID-19 testing site after booking a test through the 811 self-assessment tool.

The transportation service was implemented to eliminate transportation as a barrier to testing since public transit isn’t an option due to the risk of exposing others to the virus, according to Nova Scotia Health.

“We ask people who need transportation assistance to call to make their appointment so we can align the taxi availability with appointment availability,” a spokesperson said in an email to The Signal.

“Having us book the taxi also allows us to alert the taxi company that they’ll be transporting someone to COVID-19 testing.”

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How it works

Nova Scotia Health is working with taxi companies across the province to ensure those who need to be tested can safely get to and from their appointment, the spokesperson said.

There are no specific criteria relating to who qualifies for this service. If someone “expresses a concern about transportation challenges,” 811 staff will refer the individual to a toll-free number to book transportation, the spokesperson said.

Those who need help with transportation can also call 1-844-996-0694 (toll-free) to book their appointment and arrange transportation.

The taxi company will then send a vehicle with “enhanced cleaning procedures” in place to reduce the risk of viral transmission to the driver. Nova Scotia Health provided The Signal with a list of procedures taxi drivers are asked to do:

  • Be sure to have alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60 per cent alcohol content and use it often.
  • Ensure the patron is wearing a mask.
  • Seat the passenger as far as possible from the driver. If a van is available this would be preferred.
  • After transport ensure your vehicle is cleaned and disinfected prior to transporting other patrons.

Dartmouth resident Eliese MacKinnon doesn’t have a car. She used the service to get to her COVID test appointment at the Nova Scotia Hospital and said the process was “super easy.”

“She parked and waited for me,” MacKinnon said of her taxi driver. “I went in and did my test — it only took about 10 to 15 minutes — and I went out and she brought me back home and dropped me off. Simple as pie.”

MacKinnon said her driver was “fully geared up” with personal protective equipment.

Two people in Halifax who tried to use the service told The Signal they weren’t able to get through to a person on the phone. Nova Scotia Health is aware of this issue, the spokesperson said, adding that it is likely due to a higher number of calls in the central zone.

“Staff have been working on a solution over the last few days and we are confident the problem is being resolved,” the spokesperson said.

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About the author

Simon Smith

Simon Smith is a multimedia journalist with The Signal in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He is an avid traveller and is interested in local news, business,...

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