Ride share drivers hope new face mask orders will help keep them and riders safe

Ridesharing and mask ordinance

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Rideshare drivers come in close contact with passengers every day, but how are they keeping themselves, and their customers, safe during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Uber drivers have been required to wear face masks for several weeks now, and riders are also being asked to wear a face covering.

However, drivers said enforcing that is sometimes easier said than done.

Jerry Stephens has been an Uber driver for about 3 years.

But when the pandemic hit, he decided to shift to Uber Eats deliveries, believing it would be a safer option, and would bring in more money, since most people were staying at home.

Uber updated its safety features back in May, requiring everyone to follow recommended guidelines from the CDC.

“When you go to log into your app, before you can take any deliveries or even sign in, it actually makes you take a verification photo with your mask on,” Stephens explained.

“[I’m] making sure I keep my vehicle clean, keeping a lot of Clorox wipes with me or Lysol, whatever you can find since everything is a little hard to find right now, and just obviously doing the basic things you should probably have already been doing before this virus,” Stephens said.

Riders must also agree to sitting in the back seat and rolling down the windows for ventilation.

Now, both riders and drivers can cancel a ride if the guidelines aren’t followed.

As more cities and counties, like Birmingham and Jefferson County announce face covering orders, Stephens said he hopes that will help stop the spread of the virus, as well as hold divers and riders accountable for following the safety guidelines.

“I mean, obviously you won’t have that turmoil because even before they go to get that ride, they should already have their mask on. Right now, it’s kind of being put off on us to kind of mandate that before they get into the vehicle,” Stephens explained.

Other ride sharing companies, such as Lyft, have also adopted similar measures amid the pandemic.

Riders and drivers must self-certify that they will wear some type of face covering and will not schedule a ride if they have COVID-19 or have symptoms of the virus.

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