Montreal taxi drivers feel economic ripple of coronavirus outbreak

As the Quebec government ramps up measures to protect the public from the new coronavirus, economic disruptions are rippling through the province’s fragile taxi industry.

Elias Dabneh, who works in downtown Montreal, told Global News that his business is starting to dwindle. While he usually picks up 10 customers on a regular day, he only had three passengers on Friday.

“Everybody is afraid of the virus,” he said.

Taxi drivers like Dabneh said they started feeling the pinch after the province rolled out new directives aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

As part of the protocol, government employees returning from trips abroad are ordered to stay home in quarantine for 14 days. Travellers are also being asked to do the same.

Quebec schools, universities and daycares also closed for two weeks. Aside from the public sector, the province is also asking employees who can work from home to do so.

Azzi Lubaili was parked for hours on Saturday outside the bustling Queen Elizabeth Hotel in downtown Montreal. While he was hoping to attract some business, he said he didn’t get a single customer within a five-hour period.

“There is no one in the streets,” he said. “Hotels are empty, restaurants are empty.

“There are no clients.”

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