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Uber rolls out enhanced safety measures amid COVID-19 outbreak

Uber will use new technology to verify all drivers are wearing a mask or face covering before taking a trip in the UAE.

Uber has allocated $50 million for safety equipment globally, asking both drivers and riders to take additional safety precautions In UAE, Bahrain, Jordan, and Lebanon, only two riders per car will be allowed in line with government regulations These new safety measures will stay in effect until the end of June, when they will be reviewed based on the latest official health guidance

As governments across the region begin to ease off lockdown and workplaces slowly resume operations, Uber is taking unprecedented safety measures to help everyone who uses its app stay safe and healthy.

Uber drivers in the UAE will be asked as part of a new in-app safety checklist, to verify they are wearing a mask using new object recognition technology. Any driver who is not wearing a mask or other face covering will not be able to go online. In countries where face coverings are mandatory like UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, drivers can cancel the ride if a rider isn’t wearing a mask without incurring a penalty. Drivers will also be asked to confirm if they have taken additional safety measures such as regularly sanitising their car and making hand sanitizer available for their riders.

Similarly, riders will be asked whether they have taken necessary safety precautions like washing their hands before getting in the car, sitting in the backseat and opening windows for ventilation. In UAE, Bahrain, Jordan, and Lebanon, only two riders per car will be allowed in line with government regulations. Riders will also be able to cancel rides without incurring penalties if drivers aren’t wearing masks in countries where face coverings are mandatory. 

Globally, Uber is investing $50 million to help ensure every driver and courier has access to personal protective equipment, cleaning and sanitising supplies they need to work more safely on the Uber app. This includes providing masks to drivers across the MENA region and reimbursing eligible drivers and couriers for the purchase of a sanitizer or disinfectant product of their choice up to a maximum amount which is defined for each country. So far, Uber has provided or reimbursed over 8000 hand sanitisers, cleaning sprays and disinfectant wipes to drivers and couriers in MENA. It is also partnering with Unilever todistribute hygiene kits to drivers and couriers across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

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Abdellatif Waked, Director and General Manager at Uber MENA said: “Now, as cities begin to reopen, we want to ensure that both riders and drivers recognise that they have a shared responsibility to make travel safer, and enough flexibility to manage this, while prioritising health and safety. Governments as well as the private sector across the globe are continually working to assess and adapt a world post the COVID-19 pandemic, and we want to use the scale and influence of our platform to proactively complement the government’s efforts to help everyone stay safe and healthy.”

Recently, Uber also announced the launch of Uber Medics in the UAE and Saudi Arabia as part of its global commitment to Move What Matters, providing healthcare workers with discounted trips to and from their workplaces. Additionally, ‘Uber By the Hour’ offers riders in the UAE an hourly ride option, without having to re-request a trip at each location – strengthening safety, providing additional flexibility for riders and an additional earnings opportunity for drivers.

Other safety initiatives announced in light of Covid-19 include:

  • New health and hygiene feedback system: Uber is adding new options for feedback in the app, including if a rider or driver is not wearing a mask. Anyone who is repeatedly flagged for violating the new safety policies risks losing access to Uber’s apps.
  • Safety education materials: Working with the World Health Organization and the latest public health advice, Uber has compiled safety tips and recommendations specifically geared toward ridesharing. This will be used to educate riders and drivers when we learn of unsafe behavior.
  • Financial Compensation: Financial assistance for up to 14 days to any driver or who is diagnosed with COVID-19 or is individually asked to self-isolate by a public health authority while their account is on hold.

These new safety measures will stay in effect until the end of June, when they will be reviewed based on the latest official health guidance.

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