LONDON, ONT. -- As the economic pressures of COVID-19 mount, city council will consider a new financial relief package - this time aimed at local businesses and taxis.

“This is very hard,” explains taxi driver Ester Itzhka. “Every day I’m working 13, 14 hours, (it’s) not too much busy.”

Itzhka had only five passengers all Monday morning, and she’s not alone, “Every taxi is too much slow,” she says.

“Fees do add up, and if business isn’t rolling in as it normally does, in this environment it makes it difficult to operate,” explains Councillor Mo Salih.

Salih and Councillor Phil Squire have drafted a motion recommending city hall defer payment of licensing fees related to food, personal services and taxis for three months.

Both essential and non-essential businesses would qualify.

Salih says delaying payment will provide flexibility, “To allow them to reprioritize some of the limited monies that are coming in for them.”

The motion also directs city staff to find other ways that city hall can help local businesses survive the COVID-19 pandemic. Council would receive a report outlining options.

“I’m confident staff will be able to find other opportunities as well,” adds Salih.

The motion to defer fees for three months will be considered by council’s Community and Protective Services Committee on Tuesday.