Following in the footsteps of the airline industry, rideshare apps are beginning to codify health and safety recommendations into company-wide requirements. Today, Lyft became the first rideshare app to require masks for both riders and drivers, among other health and safety requirements that users must agree to before beginning a ride.
Riders and drivers must certify in the app that they will wear face masks, leave windows open when possible, use hand sanitizer frequently, keep cars clean, and refrain from using Lyft if they think they might have COVID-19 or any symptoms. Passengers also cannot ride in the front seat.
While drivers are independent contractors who don't get health insurance benefits from Lyft, the company is also making an extra effort to support its drivers. It's distributing cleaning supplies and masks to drivers, as well as providing more earning opportunities while ride demand is down in the form of Essential Deliveries, a service that provides contactless deliveries of meals, groceries, and medical supplies. Importantly, there's also a driver fund for immunocompromised drivers, drivers with COVID-19, and drivers directed to quarantine by their doctors. And Lyft provides drivers with access to virtual medical care and COVID-19 screenings.
"We've spent about $2.5 million on sanitizing supplies and hundreds of thousands of masks for drivers," says Angie Westbrock, Head of Global Operations and Head of Lyft’s Covid-19 Response Task Force. "We've set up no-contact distribution in most of the outdoor locations within our hubs where drivers come to pick up the supplies. We're distributing cloth masks, and it's important to understand that masks are in place not to protect yourself, but to protect the people whom you're around. This is a core part of Lyft's values and how we think about protecting our community and just demonstrating to others that you care about them."
Uber also has plans to require masks for drivers and riders, as reported by CNN, and is even looking to take this policy a step further than Lyft with face ID technology that would verify whether drivers are in fact following the mask policy. In the meantime, like Lyft, Uber is also providing its drivers with masks and supplies, as well as giving users in-app up-to-date health information from the World Health Organization.