Uber Institutes New Protocols To Safeguard Driver, Rider Health

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Uber, inviting users to take a “second first trip,” has introduced new safety guidelines to help protect people from the coronavirus as they begin taking rides again, including a mandate that all drivers wear masks.

In a blog post by CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, the ride-hailing company, which has seen traffic decrease substantially due to the pandemic, said drivers will have to take a selfie to prove they’re wearing a mask before being allowed to start accepting rides.

If drivers can’t do that, they won’t be allowed to log onto the service, Uber said.

The company also clarified it wouldn’t use the selfies to process biometric information or register the person’s face in a database.

Riders, too, will have to take those precautions, as Uber has asked them to provide a selfie of their own for drivers to ensure that their passengers are wearing masks. Riders will have to sit in the back seat, with the window open, and the maximum number of people allowed in an UberX ride will now be three instead of four.

The company plans to implement the policy until the end of June, at which time the policies will be re-evaluated based on health needs. Riding with multiple people in a vehicle, which necessitates close proximity, has been recognized as a risk for contracting the coronavirus.

Uber is also asking drivers to take safety precautions by canceling trips if a rider isn’t wearing a mask, and vice versa, with the option to report those cases to Uber for review. Uber notes that people shouldn’t cancel rides because of a person’s race, gender or national identity. Those who repeatedly violate the mask rule, the release says, won’t be able to utilize Uber anymore.

The company spent time sending out safety supplies to drivers, including masks, sanitizer and more. Uber spent $50 million sending 23 million masks to drivers worldwide, according to the post. In situations where it couldn’t ship the masks directly to the drivers, Uber provided refunds for them to buy the supplies themselves, and the company has distributed them in person at Greenlight Hub locations.

Finally, Uber plans to partner with Clorox to relay cleaning and sanitizing tips to drivers and riders.