A CITY taxi driver has spoken out about people who are flouting lockdown restrictions and disregarding the rules 'as if Covid-19 doesn't exist'.

Zana Zahir from St John's is a self employed taxi driver who says despite the lack of work almost crippling him, those he does pick up are 'oblivious to the lockdown.'

Mr Zahir said: "Of course, this year and the last has been really very difficult for the industry. We are self employed and get no grants or furlough, there is just no business. I waited at the taxi rank for two hours in town the other day for a £3.50 fare. My school contract has also been cancelled as children aren't going to school, so it is really tough right now.

"However, despite the lockdown, the people I pick up just don't seem to be bothered, and it puts me in a really awkward position, because what am I supposed to do? I can't turn the work down, we don't have a choice, a customer is a customer, I don't want any hassle from people I'm just trying to put food on the table.

"Last week I picked up a lady from town who was not wearing a mask. Then a few days later, I was dropping someone off when a young lad just jumped in the back, also without a mask. I asked him if he could put one on and he just said: 'If the police come they can fine me, I don't care.'

"It was a lot worse when pubs were still open until 11, people would cram in the back, drunk, and if I said anything I would get abuse. Some people ask me 'if I work for the government?' and tell me that 'Covid-19 is not real' and **** the virus'.

"It is really frustrating. I wear my mask and I sanitise the car before and after each pick up, but it seems as though people just don't care. There are so many issues."

Data published by the National Police Chiefs Council shows a total of 748 fixed penalty notices for breaches of Covid-19 laws were issued by West Mercia Police between March 27 and December 20.

Of these, 240 were issued for breaches of coronavirus laws brought in during the first few months of the pandemic, 61 were linked to the tiered alert system introduced in October, and 198 to the national lockdown which began in November.

There were 196 for failing to wear a face covering when required, and six for breaching international travel rules.

There were also six for breaking business regulations and three for gatherings held of more than 30 people.

NPCC chairman Martin Hewitt said enforcement shouldn’t always equal police involvement or a fine being handed out.

But he added: “It is right for officers to be inquisitive about why individuals may be away from home.

“Those who blatantly ignore the regulations should expect to receive a fixed penalty notice, and we’ll target our resources towards those who commit the most serious breaches and put others at risk through their behaviour.”