From this week, all Uber riders, drivers and couriers in South Africa are required to wear a mask or face covering when taking a trip. As part of a new in-app safety checklist, before drivers and couriers 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 or courier who is not wearing a mask or other face covering will not be able to go online.
Drivers will also be asked to confirm they’ve taken additional safety measures, such as regularly sanitising their car and making hand sanitizer available for their riders. Riders will also be required to take safety precautions like washing their hands before getting in the car, bringing hand sanitiser along, sitting in the backseat, and opening windows for ventilation.
These new safety measures are being introduced today, Monday 18 May, and stay in effect until the end of June, when they will be reviewed based on the latest official health guidance.
Uber has allocated $50-million globally to help provide drivers and couriers with access to the protective equipment, cleaning and sanitising supplies. Uber has also partnered with Youth Employment Service (YES), a non-profit organisation, to be part of their #Masks4All campaign, which will provide masks to Uber drivers across South Africa.
In addition, Uber partnered 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.
Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO of Uber, says: “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 reopen and people start moving again, we’re taking 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.”
Other new safety measures, as announced by Uber, include:
- Safety checklist for couriers: Prior to going online, couriers will be asked to confirm they’ve taken certain safety measures such as wearing a mask or face covering, sanitising their delivery bag, adhering to social distancing measures and following no-contact delivery instructions when dropping off an order.
- 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 system: We are adding new options for feedback in the Uber app, including if a rider or driver is not wearing a mask. Anyone who is repeatedly flagged for violating our 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, we have 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 behaviour.