A lot is going to change for Uber customers in the coming days as India slowly eases out of the lockdown. Uber’s new safety features for riders and drivers announced today, makes regular disinfection of the cabs and masks mandatory.
To start with, Uber has made it mandatory for all drivers and riders to wear a face mask at all times. Starting today, all Uber drivers will first need to clear an “online checklists” to be able to take pick a trip. Drivers will be required to confirm that they have taken all the COVID-19 safety measures and are wearing a face mask. Riders will also need to go through a similar checklist before booking a ride the next time.
From today, before drivers are able to start accepting trips, they will be asked to take a selfie with a mask on and the photo will be verified by a new technology developed by Uber especial for the COVID-19 pandemic, said Sachin Kansal, Global Senior Director of Product Manager at Uber. Any selfie uploaded without a mask will not be accepted, hence, drivers will be unable to accept any trip. For all selfies uploaded without a mask, Uber app will show a warning message that states “We’re unable to confirm your face cover or mask. Place it over your nose and mouth and try again.”
Keeping safety in mind Uber has also made it mandatory for drivers to disinfect the cabs before every ride. Uber confirmed that it has sourced more than 3 million three-ply face masks, 1.2 million shower caps, 200,000 bottles of disinfectants, and 200,000 bottles of sanitisers for free distribution to all drivers across India. In case drivers choose to source the required PPE themselves, Uber will reimburse costs.
Uber’s new in-app safety feature will notify drivers to replenish their PPE supplies after they have completed a predetermined number of trips. The notification will provide a list of convenient pick up points and generate a QR code once they select the preferred location. An Uber volunteer will scan the QR code at the designated pick up location and hand over PPE supplies to drivers.
The ride-hailing service has disconnected Pool services and only Uber Go, Moto and Auto will be operational. Starting today, only two riders will be allowed in Uber Go and no one will be able to sit on the front seat next to the driver.
Uber has also confirmed that rider and driver will have the flexibility to cancel the ride if they find the other person without a mask. Both rider and driver are required to wear a face mask during the entire ride and anyone disobeying the guidelines will face strict consequences.
For example, if a rider removes his face mask during the trip the driver will be able to issue a complaint after the ride ends by selecting the newly introduced “No face cover or mask” option. Uber will, in case of frequent complaints, bar the rider from using its service. The same applies to the driver as well.
During the webinar, Kansal confirmed that Uber has requested both its drivers, employees, and business partners to use Aarogya Setu app but it’s not mandatory.