Uber to require drivers and riders to wear face masks, open windows for ventilation

Uber is adopting several safety measures starting May 18 to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among drivers and riders.

Drivers and riders will have to confirm they are wearing a mask or cover before every ride, the company said. The new guidelines are in effect through the end of June.  

Additional guidelines include reducing the maximum suggested number of passengers for an UberX ride from 4 to 3.

Delivery people and drivers will be asked to confirm through a new checklist, which requires drivers to verify they are wearing a mask by asking them to take a selfie. Once verified, riders receive a notification through the app.

Riders will also have to confirm they are wearing some type of cover on their face, as well as sanitized their hands. Uber is making riders use a similar checklist to verify they are taking these precautions.

Besides confirming they will abide to the face cover guidelines, riders must also agree to sit in the back seat and open windows for ventilation.

“As countries reopen, Uber is focused on safety and proceeding with caution,” said Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi in a statement.  “Today, we continue to ask riders to stay home if they can, while shipping safety supplies to drivers who are providing essential trips.”

Riders and drivers are now allowed to cancel trips without penalty if they don’t feel safe, including if the passenger or driver isn’t wearing a face cover. Users can also report the issue to Uber via the app. This goes hand-in-hand with Uber’s new feedback options, which now includes having no face cover or mask. Drivers and riders who repeatedly violate mask policies risk losing access to Uber.

Other ride sharing companies have taken similar measures amid the pandemic. Lyft also announced that users must submit a “Personal Health Certification,” which requires every rider, and driver, to self-certify that they will wear a face mask, or covering, and they will not ride or drive with Lyft if they have COVID-19, think they have it or have related symptoms.

Uber is still operating in the United States, Canada, India, most of Europe and Latin America. The company said it will reassess the policy at the end of June based on local public health needs.

Follow Coral Murphy on Twitter @CoralMerfi