VANCOUVER -- The B.C. government has lowered the annual licence fee for taxi and limo operators during the coronavirus pandemic, it announced Monday.

The annual fee has been reduced to $50 per vehicle with a licence fee cap of $5,000. Licensees would, in the past, pay an annual fee of $100 per vehicle with no overall fee cap.

The annual licence renewal fee was reduced for commercial operators that hold a Passenger Directed Vehicle Authorization, which includes taxi and limo operators. The change took effect on June 22.

"Throughout the pandemic, operators and drivers in the taxi and limo industry have worked hard to protect passengers, with new measures focused on hygiene to prevent transmission," Transportation Minister Claire Trevena said in a statement. "This work has been so important in maintaining what has been designated an essential service."

Private and public transportation services such as buses, trains, taxis, car-share and ride-hailing have been deemed essential services by the provincial government.

The government is also waiving plate fees for all operators during the pandemic, allowing eligible licensees to defer their passenger transportation renewal fee for six months and allowing insurance payments to be temporarily suspended for fleet and non-fleet customers.

Carolyn Bauer, spokesperson for the Vancouver Taxi Association, says there have been "significant impacts" on the industry during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We have been working closely with the province and are pleased with this change that I believe will support our industry during this challenging time," she said in a statement.