Home Business COVID-19: Uber launches mask verification to protect drivers, riders

COVID-19: Uber launches mask verification to protect drivers, riders

Moses Akaigwe

As governments begin to ease lockdown imposed as part of efforts to check the spread of coronavirus, Uber is taking unprecedented safety measures to help everyone who uses its app stay safe and healthy. 

From today, all Uber riders, drivers in Nigeria will be required to wear a mask or face covering when taking a trip. As part of a new in-app safety checklist, before drivers go online they will be asked to take a selfie to verify they are wearing a mask or face covering using new object recognition technology. Any driver who is not wearing a mask or other face covering will not be able to go online.

A statement issued in Lagos said drivers would also be asked to confirm they have taken additional safety measures, such as regularly sanitising their car and making hand sanitizer available for their riders. The riders will be required to take safety precautions like washing their hands before getting in the car, sitting in the backseat and opening windows for ventilation.

These new safety measures take effect from today, Monday, May18, and remain so until the end of June, when they will be reviewed based on the latest official health guidance.

The statement disclosed that Uber is allocating $50 million globally to help provide drivers and couriers with access to the protective equipment, cleaning and sanitising supplies they need to work more safely on the Uber app. This includes purchasing and distributing more than 7 million masks, and over 350,000 units of sanitising and cleaning supplies to drivers and couriers across Europe.

In addition, Uber will partner with consumer goods company Unilever to provide hygiene kits to drivers and couriers in the UK, with plans to expand to more countries across Europe, the Middle East and Africa soon. The kits will include Cif (Jif) antibacterial multi-purpose spray and Lifebuoy alcohol-based hand gel, among other items.

Giving more insight into the measures, Uber CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, remarked, “For months we’ve been urging people to stay home, for their safety and the safety of drivers who continue to make essential trips. Now, as cities begin to re-open and people start moving again, we’re taking unprecedented measures to help everyone stay safe and healthy, every time they use Uber. This includes working with partners like Unilever to help drivers, couriers and riders access the masks and hygiene kits they need to work and travel more safely.”

His Unilever counterpart, Alan Jope, said“As some countries around the world look to slowly ease out of lockdown, safe transportation will play a crucial role as we move into a new normal. And as people begin to venture out, we must collectively ensure that health and safety remains the absolute priority.  We’re pleased that by partnering with Uber, and providing our trusted hygiene products, Unilever is able to help keep drivers, couriers and riders as safe as possible.”

Other safety measures announced in the statement include:

Free cancellations for safety concerns: Drivers can cancel a ride without a penalty if a rider isn’t wearing a mask or face covering. Riders can do the same. These cancellations must be related to safety concerns, Uber’s Community Guidelines prohibit discrimination against anyone based on their race or perceived national origin.

New health and hygiene feedback systemNew options have been added for feedback in the Uber app, including making it known if a rider or driver is not wearing a mask. Anyone who is repeatedly flagged for violating the new safety policies risks losing access to Uber’s apps.

Safety education materials: Working with the World Health Organization and the latest public health advice, Uber has compiled safety tips and recommendations specifically geared toward ridesharing and food delivery. This will be used to educate riders, drivers, couriers and restaurants when we learn of unsafe behavior.

Since the pandemic began, Uber has taken meaningful steps to help keep everyone on the Uber platform safe. This includes providing the latest public health information in the apps, introducing contactless delivery on Uber Eats and providing active drivers and couriers diagnosed with COVID-19 – or those having to self-isolate – with financial assistance from Uber for up to 14 days.

This is in addition to the free Partner Protection insurance with AXA, which covers sickness, injury, maternity and paternity payments for eligible independent drivers and couriers in Europe.

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