Uber has announced that it will begin implementing a new policy starting next week that will make it mandatory for all its drivers and riders to wear face coverings.
The new policy will be implemented in the United States as well as a host of other selected countries around the world. The ride-hailing company also confirmed that it’s developing a new technology that will detect if drivers and riders are wearing these coverings or not.
Uber has also noted that it intends to start shipping safety supplies to its drivers across the US in order to make this transition easier.
The ride-hailing company is encouraging riders to stay home if they can but recognizes that as countries reopen once again for business, demand for ride-hailing service will start to rise. In that case, the company feels that it has a role to play in enhancing the safety of its drivers and riders as the world continues to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
Nationwide stay-at-home orders, issued in almost all US states and in many countries globally, have hit the company’s ride-hailing business hard. During a conference call with investors, Uber’s CEO Dara Khosrowshahi noted that overall bookings for its ride-hailing services in some of the major global cities have dropped by nearly 70% over the last month alone.
Although the company has seen an uptake in its food delivery service Uber Eats, the growth hasn’t been good enough to cover the losses in its ride-hailing segment.
As the ride-hailing company battles this unprecedented economic crisis, reports have emerged that it may lay off up to 20% of its staff in the near future. We are not sure if these layoffs are imminent or not but based on the progression of the virus, it looks like more and more people will continue to stay at home.
The only good news for the company is that there’s growing political pressure in the United States to reopen the economy. However, the final decision still lies with the governors of individual states and most have noted that they intend to proceed cautiously with reopening, guided by available data in the process.
In essence, it may take a few extra months before all facets of the economy are up and running again, something that will have a huge effect on Uber’s revenue and growth this year.
Lyft, Uber’s main competitor in the ride-hailing sector, has also issued new directives that will also require its drivers and riders to wear masks during rides. All these safety measures are designed to get these ride-hailing services ready for when the economy reopens but it’s not clear if they’ll have any effect on bringing back customers.
Nonetheless, it seems like the two companies are prioritizing driver and rider safety in the wake of this global pandemic. So far, over 3.85 million people worldwide have been infected by the virus and over 277,000 have died from the pandemic.