Drivers for Uber will soon be required to wear masks in several countries, including the U.S., the company said.
Representatives for Uber confirmed that this policy had been voted into action at a recent meeting.
Masks are highly recommended by healthcare professionals as a way to reduce one’s chance of infecting others with latent cases of the coronavirus.
In a vehicle, where people sit in close proximity to each other, the chances of infection are high and “absolutely everyone” should wear a mask, said New York epidemiology professor Robyn Gershon.
Uber has attempted to provide its drivers with masks, though the more urgent need for medical professionals meant that it wasn’t always possible. Uber has also shipped disinfectant to drivers, recommending them to try and keep their cars as clean as possible.
Uber might also be attempting new technology that could detect whether a driver is wearing a mask before they go out and start accepting rides, although this was only recently planned as a concept and not put into any sort of practice yet, according to an anonymous tip from someone familiar with the company.
Uber, which has facial identification technology at its disposal for the Real Time ID check feature it uses to verify drivers, might also look at ways to check if riders are wearing masks.
In a statement, head of safety Andrew Hasbun said Uber was “preparing for the next phase of recovery, where we will all have a role to play.”
Uber drivers who don’t have a mask can also wear a homemade mask, a bandanna or some other type of face covering.
Gershon recommended drivers working long hours to change out face coverings once every eight hours, and place them in a new ziplock bag after use, washing if possible.
Uber, which mainly relies on its ride-hailing program, was hit hard when the pandemic arrived on U.S. shores. Though the company has managed to save some ground with its grocery delivery program, the company is not doing well – it’s announced it may have to lay off workers, which is not an uncommon potential future for ridesharing companies.