Uber has announced new changes to the ride-sharing experience, including a requirement for drivers to take regular mask selfies to ensure that they’re complying with the transportation company’s new health features.
Under the new policy, drivers for both UberEats and the traditional ride-sharing service will be required to take a selfie with a mask or face cover before they’re allowed to accept a passenger or food delivery order. The feature doesn’t collect biometric data, unlike the technology they can use to confirm the identity of the person driving, says the company.
In addition to requiring drivers to now wear masks, passengers can no longer sit in the front seat with the driver, and must confirm they’re wearing a mask through an in-app checklist. The new policy allows for both the driver and the passenger to reject the other, free of charge, for not wearing a mask.
“Accountability is key — and it goes both ways. That’s why we are encouraging drivers to cancel trips without penalty if they don’t feel safe, including if the rider isn’t wearing a face cover,” Dara Khosrowshahi, chief executive of Uber, said in a statement on Wednesday. “If a driver shows up without a mask on, the rider can cancel the trip without penalty, too, and report the issue to us via the app.”
The changes to the ride-sharing experience, which has prompted Uber to refer to them as a passenger’s “second first trip,” will go into effect across the United States on Monday and will last through June, at which point they may be changed “based on local public health needs.”
“We understand that some of these policies may be inconvenient at first,” Kansai Sachin, director of product management at Uber, said in a press conference. “But when it comes to safety, we want to make sure that we have caution in our mind and everyone’s safety in our heart.”
The company also said it plans to spend $50 million on disinfectant and cleaning supplies – including masks, gloves, hand sanitizers, and wipes – for drivers who work with the company around the world.
Last week, California filed a lawsuit against Uber for violating a new labor law that was designed to re-classify drivers as employees of ride-sharing companies, and deem those employees subject to benefits and special labor protections. As The Daily Wire previously reported, in announcing the lawsuit, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra implied that the pandemic had made drivers realize the law was a good idea.
“Californians who drive for Uber and Lyft lack basic worker protections — from paid sick leave to the right to overtime pay,” said Becerra. “Sometimes it takes a pandemic to shake us into realizing what that really means and who suffers the consequences.”
Uber promptly blasted the state attorney general and several cities named in the lawsuit over its poor timing.
“At a time when California’s economy is in crisis with four million people out of work, we need to make it easier, not harder, for people to quickly start earning,” said Uber in a statement, obtained by NBC News. “We will contest this action in court, while at the same time pushing to raise the standard of independent work for drivers in California, including with guaranteed minimum earnings and new benefits.”
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