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Uber Implements Safety Measures To Help Curb Spread Of COVID-19

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Uber [Courtesy]

As most cities start lifting the stay at home order and most people report back to work, Uber has come up with a number of changes on its Taxi-hailing and on-demand food delivery service.

The changes have been prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the measures are to ensure the safety of the driver and the rider.

The changes include a checklist for all users, a facemask verification feature for drivers and the number of passengers in every vehicle.

“This is not a problem that can be solved by the drivers or only by the riders, it is everyone’s responsibility,” said Sachin Kansal, senior director of product management at Uber, during a Webinar announcing the changes.

User policing is at the heart of these new changes. Riders, drivers, delivery personnel and even restaurants signed up on Uber Eats, will have the power to report lack of measures to contain COVID-19 and give low ratings for the same.

For instance, a delivery personnel can give feedback if social distancing is not being maintained in the restaurant; and a restaurant can give feedback if the delivery personnel is not wearing a mask.

“These feedback loops between all the parties are extremely important for us to maintain safety,” Kansal said.

The new policies are expected to stay in place for the next few months. According to Kansal, “as the situation on the ground changes, we will evolve our policies as well.”

Uber app users will be required to read and agree to an online checklist before hailing a ride or for the driver, picking up a rider.

The checklist requires confirmation from the driver and the rider that they have taken certain steps such as sanitizing their hands and/or wearing a face mask to stop the spread of COVID-19.

If the rider and driver do not feel safe, they are encouraged to cancel the trip, a move that has in the past resulted in a lower rating.

When you give a low rating, there is also an option for ‘no face mask or cover’ along with the usual options e.g. ‘late for pick up’, ‘disrespectful’ or ‘cleanliness’. If the user picks a ‘no face cover or mask’ option, the rider or driver will receive a message informing them of the requirements of being on the platform.

Kansal said that drivers who repeatedly violate the requirements will be taken off the platform.

Using the existing driver selfie technology, drivers will have to verify that they are wearing a face mask before accepting trips.

The technology is only available on the driver app and riders will therefore be policed by the drivers. Riders are also encouraged to keep the windows open, where possible.

Uber riders are no longer allowed to sit in the front seat to allow for more distance in the car. This means that UberX can now carry a maximum of three passengers per trip.

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Written by Vanessa Murrey

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