Lyft said Thursday it will soon require drivers and riders to wear face masks or face coverings when using its platform, days after its rival Uber confirmed plans to do the same.
As stay-at-home orders begin to ease in certain parts of the country, Lyft said both drivers and riders will need to agree to certain precautions before they’re able to accept or request a ride. The new “personal health certification” is expected to launch in the next few weeks, according to Angie Westbrock, Lyft’s vice president of global operations and head of its Covid-19 Response Task Force.
The certification, which will appear in the app, will require that drivers and riders agree to wear a face covering, not use the service if they think they may have coronavirus or related symptoms, and follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local regulations.
That includes confirming they will “leave windows open when possible and avoid recirculated air,” and passengers sitting in the backseat instead of sitting up front with the driver, per CDC guidance.
Drivers will have to re-confirm each day that they sign on to drive and riders will have to do so once a week.
“When you wear a mask, you’re demonstrating to someone that you care about them,” Westbrock said during a short press briefing Thursday. “The personal certification is helping give both riders and drivers that extra piece of mind during this time.”
Riders and drivers can opt not to take or accept a ride if they feel unsafe and can report someone to the company for not following the policies.
The news comes after CNN Business reported Sunday that Uber executives recently approved a policy around requiring drivers and riders to wear masks in the US and other markets.
As part of its policy, Uber is in the process of developing technology to detect if drivers are wearing masks or face coverings before they go online and start accepting trips, according to a person familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the policy decision was just made recently and has not yet been introduced.
Robyn Gershon, a New York University epidemiology professor, previously told CNN Business that because coronavirus can spread easily in close contact, such as in a vehicle, “absolutely positively everyone should be wearing a mask” or face covering. Those masks should be changed out frequently, she said, such as every eight hours for drivers who “work long hours.” Masks should be placed into a new zip-lock bag after use and washed, if reusable, she added.
While Lyft has said it is making free sanitizing products and face masks available to drivers, it has said those “will generally be limited to 1 face mask and 1 sanitizing product per driver per week, for as long as inventory lasts.”
Lyft, on its first quarter earnings call with analysts Wednesday, said rideshare volume was down 75% in April compared to the same period last year. It began to show some signs of rebounding last week: rides were down 70%.