Uber to force drivers and cyclists to wear masks from May 18

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The Uber logo displayed on a smartphone above the surgical masks.

Beata Zawrzel | NurPhoto via Getty Images

Uber is launching a new set of safety features in its app, including a tool that checks if drivers are wearing face masks before commuting.

The move is an attempt by the company to regain momentum in its core carpooling business, as countries seek to gradually lift their coronavirus locking restrictions.

Beginning May 18, drivers and cyclists will need to wear face masks and blankets to stop the spread of the disease. But unlike pilots, drivers will now need to verify that they are wearing face masks by taking a selfie before accepting a reservation. Riders will also have to sit in the back seat.

The San Francisco-based company, which has been hit hard by local shelter measures around the world, will also invest $ 50 million to distribute supplies such as masks, hand sanitizer and hand sanitizer. drivers and couriers. Uber works in partnership with Clorox in the United States and Unilever in Europe to supply the supplies.

“Keeping everyone safe means everyone has to take the necessary precautions, not only to protect themselves, but also to protect their driver and the next person who might get in the car after,” Dara told reporters on Wednesday. Khosrowshahi, CEO of Uber, during a call to Zoom.

Both drivers and riders will be able to cancel a trip if neither of them is wearing a face covering. Uber said it has already acquired 20 million masks and distributed 5 million to drivers.

“Self-certification is good, but verification is sometimes very important,” said Sachin Kansal, senior director of product management at Uber. “It is one thing for us to issue directives and requirements, but sometimes we have to enforce those requirements. “

Uber and national rival Lyft have come under increased pressure to pay drivers such as paid sick leave as the two companies face legal action in the state of California, alleging that they are in pain. classified their drivers as entrepreneurs.

The uncertain status of concert workers was again highlighted during the health crisis, as drivers complained that they did not have a key source of income on which they depend.

The company hit the headlines Tuesday after reports it had made an offer to buy food delivery company Grubhub. Sources confirmed to CNBC that Uber had made the offer, but said the two sides remained at odds over the price.

Uber, which recently said it would lay off 14% of its workforce, had a huge loss of $ 2.9 billion in the first quarter. Although gross bookings in its Eats business increased significantly, this did not compensate for the collapse of its main amusement ride division.

Meanwhile, Uber recently led a $ 170 million investment in Lime, the scooter and electric bike rental start-up, which will see it transfer its own Jump bikes and scooters, while the two companies will further integrate their applications.

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