Uber CEO: Governments, Not Companies, Should Push Vaccinations

The CEO of Uber has entered the debate about technology firms insisting their staff should be vaccinated before returning to work.

Like other firms, Uber has mandated all of its US staff have to be vaccinated against the Coronavirus before returning to the office later this year.

However the firm has made an exception to the core part of its businesses, by not requiring its drivers to be vaccinated as well.

Vaccination push

Speaking to CNBC, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi explained his reasoning for exempting its drivers from the requirement, saying it should not be up to individual companies to push the matter.

“When you get to the numbers in the hundreds of millions, which is what we’re talking about as far as riders and drivers go, to put that responsibility, that kind of decision making power, on a company I don’t think is right,” Khosrowshahi said in a “Squawk Box” interview.

Uber itself has not so far revealed how many drivers it has, but on Wednesday did admit it has facilitated 1.51 billion trips on the platform in its second quarter.

“I think these mandates, if they’re pushed, should be pushed by local or federal governments and that’s really the direction that we’re going with,” Khosrowshahi reportedly said. “And then whatever mandate is put forward, we are doing our best to support.”

Uber has come out strongly in supporting and promoting public vaccination measures, including offering free rides to vaccination sites.

Some would argue this is self interest, as vaccinated people are more likely to travel more frequently, including using Uber’s ride hailing service.

In the UK, the government this week said Uber, Bolt and Deliveroo among those to offer incentives for people to get the jab.

It was an “easy call” to require vaccines for Uber’s thousands of white-collar workers, Khosrowshahi reportedly said.

“You’re spending time together in an office, eight hours a day, 10 hours a day.” That means “it would only be fair to require vaccines for both riders and drivers,” he said.

But the company has opted to push other safety measures to mitigate the spread of the deadly virus, such as requiring masks and asking customers to leave their windows open to circulate air throughout the car.

“We think that the push, which we completely support, should be for the government to get people vaccinated as quickly as possible so we can get back to life,” he said.

Khosrowshahi said it is worth thinking about requiring all riders and drivers to be vaccinated.

“Based on circumstances we’re seeing now, we think the best path forward is for us and the government, and we’ve certainly played our part, to push vaccinations … to really get the vaccination rates up, we think that’s the best way forward,” he reportedly said.

Tech industry

Khosrowshahi thoughts on the matter come as other tech firms insist on vaccines for staff returning to the office or campus.

Earlier this week Facebook tightened its rules to ensure the safety of its staff returning to the office or campus, and  will require everyone to wear a mask as well.

Last week the social networking giant (along with Google), had announced they will require their staff to be vaccinated, when they return to offices or campuses.

It comes after the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention last week updated its guidance to recommend masking for vaccinated people in US areas with high Covid-19 rates.

Apple meanwhile is requiring all customers and staff, to wear masts at most of its US retail stores – whether they are vaccinated or not.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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