As restaurants across New Orleans open this week, Uber announced that they'll be along for the ride. This past Monday, May 18, the world's biggest rideshare company rolled out several new safety improvements for both drivers and passengers.
In the past, getting a selfie from your driver may have raised a red flag, but now riders can expect to receive visual confirmation that their driver is wearing a mask before they get in the car. Uber declared that all drivers must cover their faces before picking up a ride. This new policy, effective not only in the United States, but in Canada, India, and across Europe and Latin America, will be in place until Uber can reassess, based on local official COVID-19 rulings in June.
Uber also requires participation of its 100 million riders, who now must confirm that they've sanitized their hands and have masks or covered faces before they get into the car. Even then, the new protocol requires sitting in the back seat, a maximum of four passengers for UberX rides, and even rolling down the windows to increase ventilation.
Uber's not just talking a big game: The app allocated $50 million to purchase PPE and sanitation supplies for drivers. They're enforcing their promises by putting accountability into the hands of both drivers and riders by waiving cancelled-ride penalties if either party feels wary about how the other acts. Riders and drivers can go more in-depth in the post-ride review with a new safety rating feature.
As we tread lightly back into our city and the rest of 2020, it's reassuring to know that popular companies like Uber are heeding expert health warnings and requiring public participation.