rideshare and delivery drivers need to know

Here’s everything Uber drivers need to know about Uber’s new face mask policy for drivers and passengers


It’s easy to understand why it’s been necessary for drivers, and riders, to stay home and maintain social distancing during the COVID-19 crisis. Slowing down the spread of the novel coronavirus and staying safe are top priorities for everyone right now.

Still … many of us are more than ready to get back on the road. And in many states, stay-at-home orders are being relaxed by government authorities. As a result, many drivers—and the riders we seek—are starting to emerge from isolation, and once again we’ll be sharing space in our rideshare vehicles. 

This could be risky, so it’s important to create an environment that’s safe for everyone, even if we have to cope with some slightly inconvenient rules.

So, because health risks will continue to linger long after stay-at-home orders expire, Uber is implementing a significant safety policy. The company will require all drivers and riders to wear masks or other face coverings while using the Uber platform. Although no official policy statement has been announced, Uber confirmed the decision to CNN Business on May 3, 2020. 

Have Lyft and other companies required face masks?

It appears Uber has taken the lead on this, since there’s no evidence of Lyft or any other rideshare companies making similar decisions. 

Uber may want to get out in front of this issue in order to make both drivers and riders feel safer about coming back out to reanimate Uber’s bustling business.

Lyft generally follows Uber’s lead on major initiatives like this, so we would expect Lyft to implement a similar policy.

When will this policy be fully implemented?

Uber has been mum about this new policy, but drivers should expect to see official communication from Uber over the next few weeks. A spokesperson from Uber has confirmed that they will begin rolling the requirement out to markets in the coming weeks.

How will this policy be enforced?

The more rebellious among us may be thinking about how to avoid abiding by the new rule, while others are happy to comply. Enforcement of the mask-wearing rule could get extremely controversial, and we can’t help wondering what it will look like.

Uber hasn’t told us exactly how they’ll execute their new mask policy, but those of us who drive for them can probably guess. The company already has a facility on the app that’s used to identify drivers. 

Sometimes when drivers tap the app to go online, a message pops up asking them to pull over, take a selfie, and submit it. They must do so before their app will open and start receiving requests. Drivers fit their faces into the circle on the screen, snap the picture, and after it’s been confirmed to match the photo on record, they can proceed. It’s possible Uber will use this same tactic to verify that drivers are wearing masks as the company has confirmed that it is in the process of developing technology to detect drivers’ usage of face coverings.

This could be challenging, however, because facial recognition technology relies on face shape. If you’ve worn a mask, you’ve probably noticed your phone’s face-related lock doesn’t know it’s you until you remove it—or just give up and enter the passcode. Uber has a very clever technology department, so they may have already found a way around this.

What about the passengers? How will the policy be enforced for them?

This new policy leaves a lot of questions about passengers.

How will Uber enforce their mask-wearing rule on passengers? 

Should drivers refuse to pick them up if they’re not wearing a mask, or won’t put one on? Should drivers take a photo of them to prove it? 

Are drivers supposed to take the hit, both in terms of losing ride revenue and enduring verbal abuse from irate passengers? What if the customer decides to take off the mask during the ride? These and other questions will have to be answered before Uber can enforce wearing masks as a definite policy.

Since none of us has ever lived through a global pandemic before, it’s no wonder everything seems so uncertain, and sometimes downright frightening. We seriously don’t know what’s going to happen from one day to the next. So it only makes sense that widespread mask-wearing is strange to us—and we need to remember that it’s also strange for our passengers. Will they trust us more or less because we’re wearing a mask? What will happen when we inform them it’s necessary for them to wear one? What if they don’t have a mask? Even if we carry spares, how do we enforce the policy when a rider refuses to put one on?

Let’s hope we don’t run into that. Hopefully, our passengers will understand why we’re wearing masks, and why they must also wear one. That would certainly be ideal, but as we know, experience with driving people around for a living removes any preconceived notion that everyone is nice, kind, and courteous. In fact, anyone who’s ever driven rideshare has most likely had some experience with the difficult passenger

Until Uber (and other rideshare and delivery companies) come up with clearer policies, you’re going to have to be proactive. The fact is, riders are not always thinking about your welfare. They may object when you refuse to take them because they aren’t wearing a mask. They may write to your company and complain that you’re not wearing one, even if that isn’t true.

How do you prevent your own reputation from being damaged, and protect your account from being deactivated as the result of a false report from a cantankerous customer?

The best thing you can do is be polite but firm when explaining the regulations, and communicate with your rideshare service if there’s a problem with a rider. You’re likely to get a complaint email, but you’ll also get a chance to tell your side of the story. Do that by answering the email promptly and completely. 

It’s also wise to be proactive. If you can arrange it, stop driving for a few minutes and write your own complaint about what happened. As long as you stick to the facts and remain courteous throughout the interactions with the passenger and your company, chances are the company will trust that you’re doing your best to keep everyone safe.

What will wearing a mask do for your safety?

Do you feel safe while wearing a mask? Would you feel safer if your riders were wearing masks? Although they can be inconvenient, the policy of having you and your riders wear masks can help protect you and them. Still, the cloth masks you are likely to encounter are not a complete safeguard. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that in addition to wearing masks, people should continue to maintain social distancing. This paragraph is from an article on the CDC’s website:

“Wearing cloth face coverings is an additional public health measure people should take to reduce the spread of COVID-19. CDC still recommends that you stay at least 6 feet away from other people (social distancing), frequent hand cleaning and other everyday preventive actions. A cloth face covering is not intended to protect the wearer, but it may prevent the spread of virus from the wearer to others. This would be especially important if someone is infected but does not have symptoms.” 

As the CDC notes, even while you’re wearing a mask the recommendation for social distancing remains in effect. This can be awkward when you have passengers who want to sit in your front seat—but your first priority is safety. Your passenger should sit in the back seat, and if you do not feel safe, you don’t have to take the ride. 

As long as you’re following the guidelines set forth by the CDC and your individual state/city, a disgruntled passenger would have a hard time getting your company to penalize you for protecting yourself. And once the social distancing rule is relaxed, you may then feel comfortable enough to let passengers sit in the front seat. 

What more can Uber and other companies do?

It’s been a big disruption to shut down our way of life for these past weeks, and it will take big adjustments to bring us back to operating again. The companies  depend on drivers to work for them, and before we all run back out, possibly exposing ourselves to the dangers of COVID-19, we need some assurances.

Here are some suggestions for the companies to consider:

  • Be clear about policies, with riders as well as drivers. Drivers shouldn’t be put in the position of reminding riders to wear masks. It might be helpful for the company to warn riders they could risk losing their access to the platform if they don’t comply with the rules.
  • Provide masks and materials. Uber is handing out masks, but so far they can only service the areas that have been hit hardest by the pandemic. If they can’t furnish masks to everyone, maybe they could reimburse drivers for buying a supply to keep on hand for themselves and their passengers.
  • Educate drivers and riders about the importance of compliance. Sometimes it isn’t enough to just expect people to be considerate of others. In-app push notifications to passengers as well as drivers could help them to learn why it’s so important to protect one another from the scourges of COVID-19.

What more can we all do?

If we ever hope to get back to normal, we have to acknowledge and provide protection from the risks that face us now, and also convey a sense of feeling safe. As a driver, it’s up to you to protect yourself, while offering a sense of safety to your passengers. Comment and let us know how you feel about Uber’s new “mandate for masks,” and what you would like to see the companies do to protect you and your customers.

One really great way for drivers to deal with the issue of COVID-19 safety is to be supplied with face coverings and masks. Check this Gridwise article for information about where you can get them, or how you can make them. And make sure you download the Gridwise app so you can stay up to date with COVID-19 issues and everything you need to know to make the most out of your driving and delivery gigs.


Related Posts

Download Gridwise today

For iOS and Android