Uber may suspend the accounts of riders and drivers exposed to coronavirus

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Uber is considering suspending the accounts of riders and drivers who have been infected or come in contact with COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, the company says. This follows the company’s recent decision to suspend — and then reinstate — hundreds of accounts in Mexico to prevent the spread of the virus.

According to Uber’s coronavirus information hub, the company has a team working 24/7 to support public health officials responding to the outbreak. Uber says it is responding to requests from those officials regarding account suspensions. “Working with them, we may temporarily suspend the accounts of riders or drivers confirmed to have contracted or been exposed to COVID-19,” Uber says. “We’re also consulting with an epidemiologist to make sure our efforts as a company are grounded in medical advice.”

Uber has also said it would give drivers up to 14 days of sick pay if they miss work due to coronavirus or their account is suspended. “We’ve already helped drivers in some affected areas, and we’re working to quickly implement this worldwide,” the company says. Lyft has also said it would provide financial assistance to affected drivers.

Shares of Uber and Lyft have dropped amid a wider market turndown as investors flee stocks that could be especially vulnerable to the fallout from the coronavirus outbreak. Those companies considered part of the sharing or gig economy, Uber and Lyft among them, have been especially hard hit.

Uber has been suspending riders and drivers as they receive news of new outbreaks. A driver in London was suspended after delivering a coronavirus patient to a hospital. An Uber driver in Queens was among the first confirmed cases in New York City.

Uber and Lyft have declined to provide details about their driver compensation plans. Some drivers, especially those with preexisting medical conditions, have complained that the promise of financial support for those infected doesn’t go far enough. Indeed, the coronavirus outbreak is highlighting the precarious nature of gig work, from the lack of health benefits and paid sick time, to a potential drop in ridership if fewer people are using the service.

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