Price Tags really is about active transportation advocacy but I have had a reminder from a few health care providers that during the COVID-19 pandemic things are a bit different.
People working in the Emergency and Critical Care sections of hospitals that are potentially exposed to COVID-19 should NOT be taking transit, and physical distancing by walking/cycling at night is often not an option. Couple that with a reduced transit schedule and longer hours, and the question becomes~should we be charging these health care workers for parking during the crisis?
There is already a local petition circulating asking for free parking for health care workers who are now working longer hours than a normal twelve hour shift, and dealing with stressful situations related to the pandemic.
Joe Pinkstone of the Daily Mail reports on the JustPark app in Great Britain that allows hospital staff to park close to hospitals for free during the Covid-19 crisis. That company has 2,000 spaces listed for health care workers at 150 different hospitals in the country. In 48 hours 250 health care workers took advantage of the free parking.
Just Park is the most used parking app in Britain and allows drivers to reserve a space in advance. The company is waiving all fees in connection to creating more parking space for health care workers. JustPark went one step further asking people and businesses with available parking spaces near hospitals to also donate their space to these healthcare workers during the pandemic.
Of course it is British National Health Service policy to charge for parking at hospitals, and there already is some free car parking for staff “through a pre-approved list”. But in Britain there has been increasing usage of all available hospital parking by staff and by patient families.
In Sydney Australia Mayor Clover Moore is asking her Council to provide free 24 hour access to parking for all essential workers including those in health care.
As Mayor Moore wrote on twitter, “This an unprecedented health emergency. We stand ready to support our residents, businesses, cultural and vulnerable communities through this challenging time.”
UPDATE March 31~B.C. Hospitals are now providing free parking at hospitals. The City of Vancouver is no longer charging for using meter space during pandemic.