- Both companies have mandated the use of masks
- The CDC recommends that passengers sit in the back seat
- Uber’s mask policy was extended indefinitely on July 1
If you plan to use a rideshare service in the foreseeable future, plan on wearing a mask during your Uber journey.
“We believe being part of the Lyft community comes with shared responsibility,” Lyft VP of Global Operations Angie Westbrock said, via TechCrunch. “When you wear a mask, you’re demonstrating to someone that you care about them… This helps give both sides—riders and drivers—that extra peace of mind during this time.”
Uber and Lyft’s new policies line up with guidelines provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In its guidance for rideshares, taxis, and limos, the CDC reiterated its recommendation that people wear face coverings in “public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, especially in areas where there may be a lot of infected people.”
The CDC also recommends that drivers limit contact with passengers by avoiding pooled rides and asking passengers to sit in the back seat. It also suggests getting a partition to separate drivers and passengers and to use the car’s vents to bring in fresh outside air.
Uber and Lyft ask drivers and passengers to self-certify that they have taken appropriate preventative measures, including putting on a face covering (after all, even Goldman Sachs has said that wearing a face mask can save the U.S. economy). Uber requires its drivers to send in a selfie at the beginning of every ride, proving they have a mask.
A company executive told Reuters in May that Uber wants to create a similar feature to verify that riders are wearing masks, as well, and now, that mask-selfie requirement for some riders has been extended until the end of September. As Fortune noted, “If a driver reports that a passenger did not wear a face mask during a ride, the Uber app will require that passenger to send a selfie showing them in a mask before taking another ride.” One Uber driver told KCTV 5 in Kansas, “I agree with it 100%. It keeps everybody honest and on the same page.”
Yet, there also have been incidents when a mask-less rider has gotten angry at their driver for the pandemic policy (though this might no longer be a problem in Japan, which has allowed taxis to refuse to pick up mask-less riders).
Uber, which said it had completed more than 100 million mask verifications in the first five months of the pandemic, had initially said its policy would expire at the end of June but extended it indefinitely on July 1. The coronavirus pandemic hasn’t helped the bottom line for Uber, but Lyft reported that business had increased 7.3% from July to August.
“Extending our ‘No Mask, No Ride’ policy is the right thing to do,” Uber said in a statement to USA Today. “We want to send a clear message to everyone using Uber that we all have a role to play to keep each other safe.”
Uber told USA Today that the company surveyed 600 random Uber and Lyft drivers and found that most contractors feel safer with the safety guidelines in place.