Facemasks are now optional for Uber and Lyft riders and drivers in the United States, both ride-hailing firms have confirmed on Tuesday.
“The CDC order requiring masks while using rideshare platforms such as Uber is no longer in effect, and we’ve revised our Covid-19 mask and front-seat policies accordingly,” Uber was quoted by CNN as writing in an email to users on Tuesday.
Uber had a bit of a surprising policy during the Covid-19 pandemic. Last August, it emerged that Uber’s CEO had insisted that all corporate staff should be vaccinated before returning to work.
However the firm has at the same time made an exception to the core part of its businesses, by not requiring its drivers to be vaccinated as well.
However it did insist on facemasks for both drivers and passengers.
And Uber strongly supported and promoted public vaccination measures in the US, including offering free rides to vaccination sites.
But now this requirement has been dropped in the US, and Uber will no longer require riders to sit in the back seats of vehicles.
That said, it asked riders to refrain from using the front seats unless they are travelling as part of a large group.
Meanwhile Lyft announced its changes in a blog post.
“Soon after the pandemic began, Lyft established new in-ride policies based closely on public health guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),” it wrote. “Now that the CDC order mandating masks on transportation is no longer in effect, starting today, we’re updating our policies for riding and driving with Lyft.”
It said that for riders and drivers, wearing a mask is now optional for everyone in the car, and riders and drivers are no longer required to keep the front seat empty or the windows open.
“We know that everyone has different comfort levels, and anyone who wants to continue wearing a mask is encouraged to do so,” Lyft wrote
The changes from both ride-hailing firms comes one day after a federal judge in the United States struck down the Biden administration’s mask mandate for airplanes and other public transport methods.
The US CDC had extended the mask mandate last week until 3 May, but US District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle reportedly said the national public health agency had exceeded its legal powers in issuing the mandate.
Both Uber and Lyft however cautioned US customers that masks may still be required by law in certain jurisdictions, and in those areas the local regulations will apply.
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