Uber is planning to implement a new policy in the coming weeks requiring drivers and riders in the US and certain other countries to wear face masks or coverings, a company spokesperson confirmed on Sunday. As first reported by CNN Business, the ride-hailing company also is developing technology to detect whether its drivers are wearing face coverings before they begin accepting passenger trips.
In a statement emailed to The Verge, the spokesperson said Uber is shipping safety supplies to its drivers providing “essential trips,” and encouraging riders to stay home if they can.
“As countries reopen, Uber is focused on safety and proceeding with caution,” the spokesperson said. “Our teams are preparing for the next phase of recovery, where we will all have a role to play. 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.”
Uber already requires drivers to take occasional selfies as part of its Real-Time ID Check feature, which it introduced in 2016. It compares the selfie photo with what the company has on file to ensure they match.
Widespread stay-at-home orders due to the coronavirus pandemic have hit Uber’s ride-hailing segment hard. Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi told investors on a call in March that it has seen gross bookings in most major cities where it operates decline by as much as 70 percent. An uptick in its Uber Eats food delivery business has not made up for the losses on the ride-hailing side.
The Information reported late last month that Uber is considering layoffs of up to 20 percent of employees, but the company has not commented on whether layoffs are imminent.