MONTREAL -- A Montreal streetwear company is trying trying to make the taxi industry safer as drivers cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Champlain Taxi's George Boussios said his company has laid off most of their staff, including dispatchers and bookkeepers.
“They just don't have anywhere to go except clinics right now,” he said. “There's no work, there's no school, there's no shopping.”
Cabbie Peter Hatzpietros said business is down more than 80 per cent, but he's still working. Under the current circumstances, that comes with a new set of risks.
“I suffer from diabetes so I shouldn't be out there doing this at all,” he said.
Harrison Truong of H4X clothing, which markets to gamers, said masks have always been a popular item among its clientele, with anime-based products being particularly hot. Now, the company is trying to help those cabbies still on the road stay healthy.
“It's hard to sell the masks right now to people as a fashion accessory because no one is going outside,” said Truong. “But the taxi drivers... are forced to go out, especially to drive patients to the hospital.”
While the masks aren't the recommended N95s that are in short supply, Truong said he believes they do provide some protection.
“It's not going to completely help out but it will give people some reassurance,” he said.
Truong said his clientele of gamers knows something about self-isolation.
“The people are affected the least are gamers,” he said. “As everyone says, they don't leave the house anyways. This is my first time leaving in weeks. We're really good at the social distancing thing.”
Truong said there's also plans to give masks to workers in grocery stores and pharmacies.
Boussios said he wants to distribute the masks not only to his drivers.
“Every time somebody calls a Champlain taxi we'll be supplying them,” he said. “It's a service we're providing to try to be a good corporate citizen.”