Science & Nature

Uber and Lyft no longer require riders or drivers to wear masks

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As of April 19th, Uber and Lyft no longer require riders and drivers to wear masks on trips. This policy change comes just hours after a judge in Florida ruled that the CDC’s COVID-19 mask mandate for airplanes and public transit systems is unlawful.

Masks are no longer required on Uber and Lyft

On its coronavirus landing page, Uber states that riders and drivers no longer have to wear masks. The company does note that the CDC “still recommends wearing a mask if you have certain personal risk factors and/or high transmission levels in your area.”

Lyft shared a similar statement regarding the new coronavirus policy 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). Now that the CDC order mandating masks on transportation is no longer in effect, starting today, we’re updating our policies for riding and driving with Lyft.

Both rideshare services have also rescinded their no-front-seat rule. Uber is asking riders to refrain from sitting in the front seat unless the size of the group necessitates it. Lyft has also specified that drivers are no longer required to keep the windows open.

Finally, Lyft notes that it will no longer accept health safety reasons as a cancellation option in the app. If you don’t want to take a Lyft because the driver isn’t wearing a mask, you can still cancel. Just know that you’ll still be paying for the ride.

If you’re concerned about getting COVID-19 in cars in which riders and drivers alike are no longer required to wear masks, you’re out of luck. Either wear a mask yourself and hope for the best, or stop using these services altogether. Similarly, drivers with concerns will have to either quit or accept the fact that unmasked riders are now the norm.

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The new rules aren’t universal

On one hand, the mask mandates weren’t going to last forever. Even with case counts on the rise once again in the US, it’s been over two years since the initial outbreak. Many people are ready to let their guard down and attempt to return to some semblance of normalcy.

So be it. But changing the rules without warning in the middle of the week won’t be the best option. This will inevitably lead to avoidable conflicts in the coming days.

To make matters worse, the mask mandates are still in effect in some cities. For example, as pointed out by Manhattan Borough President Mark D. Levine on Twitter on Tuesday, the Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC) regulates Uber and Lyft in NYC. The TLC still mandates masks in all taxis and for-hire vehicles. That includes Lyft and Uber:

Masks are still required in all taxis and for-hire vehicles.

— NYC TLC (@nyctaxi) April 19, 2022

As you might have heard, New York City is a fairly popular tourist destination. Because of this sudden rule change, people are going to be flying in from other states expecting to be able to ride in an Uber or a Lyft without a mask. The two companies probably should have worked details like this out before spontaneously changing the rule on a Tuesday.

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