STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — As cities around the country start to slowly reopen as coronavirus (COVID-19) cases continue to trend downward, one e-hail company wants to assure its customers and employees that they’ll be returning to a safe environment. On Wednesday, Uber announced a host of policy and in-app changes designed to ensure that riders’ “Second First Trip” provides a safe and comfortable environment for all involved. “As cities begin to reopen and people start moving again, Uber is proceeding with caution and safety top of mind. We will all have a role to play to help each other stay healthy when traveling,” said Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi. “Over the last two months, our tech and safety teams have been hard at work building a new product experience that will help protect everyone, every time they use Uber,” Khosrowshahi added. Before signing into the app, drivers and delivery people will be required to complete Uber’s new Go Online Checklist, which includes taking a selfie to verify that they are wearing a mask. Starting Monday, May 18, any driver or delivery person not wearing a mask in the United States, Canada, India and most of Europe and Latin America, will not be able to go online. The feature will be in place until at least the end of June, when it will be re-evaluated based on the current public health conditions. “We’ve designed this feature to adapt to changing public health guidance and regulations as the pandemic evolves,” Khosrowshahi said. Riders will be subject to a similar checklist, confirming that they have washed their hands and are wearing a face mask, though they will not be required to take photos as proof. Riders must also agree to sit in the back seat and open the windows for ventilation. If a driver or rider shows up for a trip without a mask, either party is permitted to cancel the trip free-of-charge, with users encouraged to report the incident to Uber through the app. “Uber’s two-way feedback system has long helped ensure both riders and drivers uphold certain standards by requiring feedback on issues like vehicle quality, navigation, and speeding. Now, we are adding new options for feedback including having no face cover or mask. Drivers and riders who repeatedly violate mask policies risk losing access to Uber,” said Khosrowshahi. To ensure a safe and sanitary environment, Uber has committed $50 million to the purchase of disinfecting products and personal protective equipment, including over 23 million masks provided to drivers and delivery people to date. “Moving forward, we’ll continue to source and ship supplies to drivers and delivery people, doing our part to help make sure vehicles are cleaned regularly and riders have access to sanitizing supplies in the car,” Khosrowshahi said. The company has also worked with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization to compile a list of health and safety tips for drivers, riders and delivery people. *By Erik Bascome via The Staten Island Advance*

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