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Uber drivers and riders will soon be required to wear face masks

Uber will reportedly instruct both drivers and passengers to wear face coverings during rides as part of efforts to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Executives at the ridesharing giant greenlit the rule at a meeting last week, a source with knowledge of the decision told CNN. Uber later confirmed that it’s planning to introduce such a policy ahead of a gradual restart of its main business as shutdown restrictions begin to ease.

The company is said to be developing technology to make sure its drivers abide by the rule. It’s not clear what form this will take, though it may be similar to Uber’s existing Real Time ID-check system that uses selfies and verification software to confirm the identity of drivers.

Self-policing among drivers and passengers would also help to ensure everyone sticks to the new safety instruction.

Lockdowns imposed globally weeks ago as a result of the pandemic have hammered countless businesses, Uber among them. But with some locations already looking to tentatively ease lockdown measures, the ridesharing company wants to be ready to start transporting passengers again — and safely.

“As countries reopen, Uber is focused on safety and proceeding with caution,” the company said in a statement. It added that for now, it’s asking riders “to stay home if they can,” while it also works to ship safety supplies such as masks to drivers who are currently providing important trips to people such as essential workers.

While opinions differ when it comes to the effectiveness of face coverings, the consensus is that while they may offer little protection against someone catching the virus, they’re far more useful when it comes to preventing an infectious person from spreading it — and that’s important when you consider that infected people can spread it without even displaying symptoms. Experts warn, however, that adjusting and removing coverings can cause us to touch our faces more than we ordinarily would — something we should avoid doing. Regularly discarding, or washing, a face covering is also important.

During the pandemic shutdowns, Uber and ridesharing rival Lyft have pivoted to delivery services in a bid to keep some of its drivers working while at the same time helping out local communities as people stay home. Uber has encouraged drivers to switch to delivering for Uber Eats if possible, while Lyft recently launched Essential Deliveries, a pilot initiative for transporting packages including meals, groceries, home necessities, hygiene products, and life-sustaining medical supplies for government agencies, local non-profits, businesses, and health care organizations.

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Trevor Mogg
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