Grabbing an Uber? Buckle up and bring your face mask to combat coronavirus

Grabbing an Uber? Buckle up and bring your face mask to combat coronavirus

It's not just airlines requiring masks for passengers. Soon, Uber riders – and drivers – will need to wear face masks or some kind of face covering in post-shutdown America.

The policy, approved by the ride-hailing giant's executives in a meeting last week, is expected to become official in the coming weeks.

Uber confirmed the plan, first reported by CNN Business, to USA TODAY.

“As countries reopen, Uber is focused on safety and proceeding with caution," the company said 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."

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Uber is still operating in most markets globally. While emphasizing to potential riders to stay at home – with TV ads and reminders in its mobile app – Uber already suggests that all drivers and riders wear masks. But it is not a requirement.

The company has donated rides to healthcare workers and to thousands of women at risk for domestic violence. Competitor Lyft has also donated rides for healthcare workers. Both companies have begun working with medical providers to provide transportation for patients needing to get to appointments.

Uber announced plans to buy and ship tens of millions of masks to its drivers and delivery workers; it has also sought to get drivers disinfectant supplies.

So far Uber has 1.4 million face masks that have either shipped or are in the process of being packed and shipped in the U.S., the company says. Delivery has been prioritized to cities that have asked drivers to wear face covers; those cities include New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

Beyond that, Uber is now planning its strategy for the coming days as cities and states begin lifting some of the stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders.

As part of the plan, the company is developing detection technology so it knows drivers have face masks on before they begin accepting trips, CNN Business reported. Uber is also investigating methods of confirming riders have face coverings.

"Our teams are preparing for the next phase of recovery, where we will all have a role to play," Uber said in its statement. "We’ll communicate updates directly to users when ready, but in the meantime we continue to urge all riders and drivers to wear masks or face coverings when using Uber.”

Follow USA TODAY reporter Mike Snider on Twitter: @MikeSnider.


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