Uber And Lyft's New Mask Policies Explained: What To Know Before Your Next Ride
The changes come nearly two years after mask requirements were enacted.
After requiring travelers to wear a mask for nearly two years, Uber and Lyft recently announced that riders and drivers alike will no longer be required to wear a mask on a trip. The rideshare companies both took to their respective Twitter accounts on April 19 to announce their updated COVID-19 safety policies changes, but many people were left feeling like they had more questions than answers. Here’s what you need to know about Uber and Lyft’s new mask policies before your next ride.
Uber was the first of the two companies to announce its latest guidelines, writing in an early morning tweet, “You can now ride without a mask and use the front seat if you need to. While mask usage is still recommended, we’ve updated our COVID Safety policies. Let’s move forward, safely together.” Though the company didn’t expand further on the sudden change in regulations, Uber clarified at the end of the tweet that the changes apply only to riders using ride services in the United States.
Later that day, Lyft tweeted out a similar sentiment, stating that “masks are optional in the car, riders can sit in the front seat,” and open windows are no longer required, before encouraging Lyft riders who feel uncomfortable with the change to continue to wear a mask. To close out the tweet, Lyft attached a link to a blog post with a breakdown of the company’s Health Safety Guidelines as of April 19.
Even though the policy might changes feel sudden, they are linked to a recent national mask mandate reversal. ICYDK, on Monday, April 18, a Trump-appointed federal judge in Florida deemed the Biden administration’s mandate requiring travelers to wear a mask on public transit as “unlawful,” and struck down the policy effective immediately. The mandate began on Feb. 2, 2021 when President Joe Biden asked the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to enact the requirement for travelers, and it was recently extended by the CDC through May 3, but the latest ruling cut it short. While the CDC still recommends travelers wear face masks, the repeal of the mandate means the health protection agency can no longer enforce the use of masks on buses, trains, planes, and other forms of public transportation.
Uber and Lyft followed suit with their new respective mask policies, but with the sudden changes comes a lot of unknowns. Read on for answers to some of the most relevant lingering questions.
Why Did Uber & Lyft Decide To End The Mask Requirement?
Lyft explained in an April 19 blog post that the company updated its policy to reflect the overturned federal mandate. Per the 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.”
In an email from Uber to Elite Daily, the company also cited the overturned mandate as the reason behind the change to its health guidelines. In an email sent to Uber riders and drivers on April 19, however, the company made sure to remind travelers of the CDC’s recommendation to continue wearing a mask, especially in high transmission areas.
Will Uber & Lyft Require Drivers To Get Tested Regularly?
Elite Daily reached out to Uber and Lyft to inquire whether there will be required testing procedures in place for driver and riders, but the companies were did not provide a comment on the matter.
Lyft emphasized in its updated Health and Safety guidelines blog post that riders and drivers should not use the ridesharing platform if they have tested positive for COVID-19 or have any virus-related symptoms.
Will Uber Drivers Still Be Expected To Roll Down The Windows?
When Uber implemented its first round of COVID-safe protocols in May 2020, riders were required to roll down their windows for ventilation whenever possible. According to the company, Uber will continue encouraging riders and drivers to take necessary safety precautions under the new policy changes, like sanitizing your hands, covering your mouth to cough or sneeze, and rolling down the windows during a ride.
Why Do Uber’s New Health & Safety Rules Only Apply To Rides In the U.S.?
If you’re wondering why Uber’s updated safety requirements only apply to U.S.-based riders, it’s because the mandate was overturned on the federal level in the country, and therefore the rules won’t carry over internationally. However, Uber did share with Elite Daily that other countries have their own health and safety policies, and some have removed the requirement as well.
Could The Mask Requirement Be Reinstated?
Lyft did not comment on the possibility of reinstating masks at a later date.
Uber shared that the company will continue to follow regulations on the local level and adjust accordingly if needed. The company also added in its new policy that while, “masks are no longer required on Uber, the CDC still recommends wearing them.”
Can Riders & Drivers Request Someone Wear A Mask?
The companies did not share any plans to include an option that will allow riders to request their drivers wear a mask or vice versa.
Uber reminded travelers on the safety section of its website that riders can always cancel a trip if they feel unsafe. According to the company, if you’re charged for canceling a trip due to safety reasons, you can contact the Uber support team via the app, and you’ll likely be issued a refund.
Lyft stated in the blog post that canceling a trip for health and safety reasons, like wearing a mask, will “no longer appear as cancellation options in the app.”
Do Certain Cities Still Require Masks In Ubers & Lyfts?
There are some cities where the mask mandate is still in place, and riders will be expected to follow those regulations on every trip. New York City-based riders, for example, are still required to wear a mask in accordance with the city’s guidelines, and they’ll be prompted with an in-app reminder before booking a trip.
Lyft also reminded riders in its blog post to check local public health requirements before scheduling a ride, as the use of masks may still be required in your area.
The COVID-19 pandemic is not over, which can make it tough to keep up with new and evolving policies. To stay updated on all the Uber and Lyft guidelines (and any changes to them), you can check their respective apps and keep on eye on their social media accounts.