Now when you order a car, you have to worry about catching and transmitting COVID-19.
That’s why Lyft announced Thursday it’s requiring both riders and drivers to wear masks. In the Lyft app, you’ll have to go through a checklist of personal safety commitments before you can ride or drive.
Before you get in the car, you have to assure Lyft that you are symptom-free and that you’ll wear a mask, keep the front seat empty, and roll down the windows for airflow. You can cancel a ride if you’re concerned about a driver (or a rider) not wearing a mask. If someone keeps violating the mask rule they can get suspended from Lyft.
The new requirements will start in a few weeks.
“We believe being part of the Lyft community comes with a shared responsibility to protect one another,” Angie Westbrock, head of Lyft’s COVID-19 task force and VP of global operations, said in a call with media.
Riders have to provide their own masks, but Lyft has set aside $2.5 million for masks and hand sanitizer for drivers. Those supplies have been distributed at Lyft Hubs throughout the country and include one reusable, washable cloth mask. Last week Lyft offered free One Medical virtual care and coronavirus screenings to drivers, who don’t have health insurance or paid sick leave as independent contractors.
Uber isn’t requiring masks to ride yet, but a spokesperson said in an email, “We continue to urge all riders and drivers to wear masks or face coverings when using Uber.”
Like Lyft, Uber is providing safety equipment for drivers. Drivers and riders can cancel if they feel uncomfortable for safety reasons, like if someone is not wearing a mask. Uber partnered with telehealth provider Ro for free health screenings for drivers. Uber doesn’t provide health insurance to its drivers.
Other than masks, ride-sharing will also look different inside the vehicle. Taxi and rideshare advertising platform Firefly is offering free protective plastic sheets to its gig drivers. They’re temporary barriers that drivers can install to protect the driver and passenger in the backseat. With partitions from Firefly, Uber and Lyft cars will look more like taxis.
The safest option: Stay home and don’t order rides.