Uber and Lyft are telling their contracted drivers how best to prevent potential spread of the coronavirus, as more than 90,000 infections have been confirmed worldwide in the two months since the outbreak began.
Uber, like a number of other tech firms and large companies, is also restricting employee travel to China, northern Italy, Iran, and South Korea out of caution.
On Friday, Uber sent drivers around the world a link to a short set of guidelines via push notification in the Uber driver app. The guidelines mostly stick to the basics outlined by the World Health Organization. Uber told drivers to stay home if they feel sick, specifically calling out any “mild illness, respiratory symptoms,” or a fever of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or above. Uber advised drivers to wash their hands frequently with liquid soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or to use hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol, and to avoid touching their faces.
The company has also told drivers to cover coughs and sneezes with tissues or an elbow. And Uber asked drivers to clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces in their cars. Uber says it has “formed a dedicated global team of Uber operations, security and safety executives, guided by the advice of a consulting public health expert, to respond as needed in each market where we operate around the world.”
“We are always working to help ensure the safety of our employees and everyone on the Uber platform, and we continue to be concerned by the ongoing spread of coronavirus,” the company said in a statement.
Lyft has given its drivers similar advice in an email that linked to the coronavirus splash page on its website, the company tells The Verge. Both Lyft and Uber have warned drivers not to let the coronavirus become an excuse to discriminate against passengers based on race.
Uber had previously suspended hundreds of accounts in Mexico after those passengers allegedly rode with drivers who may have had contact with the coronavirus. While it’s unclear if those two drivers were ever at risk, Uber tells The Verge those deactivated accounts have been reinstated.
Much like food delivery workers, Uber and Lyft drivers can’t make money when they stay home, and some are worried what the continued spread might do to their livelihoods. Neither company would answer whether they will offer any assistance to drivers who do stay home, let alone ones who might get infected.