Customers who try getting into an Uber without a face mask will have to prove they have their mouths and noses covered if they want a ride in the future, the ride-hailing service said on Tuesday. It cited medical experts in stating that wearing a mask can slow the spread of COVID-19, which has killed more than 180,000 Americans to date.
Should a driver report a passenger not wearing a face mask during a ride, the Uber app will require that person send a selfie of themselves wearing a facial covering before they can call an Uber again, the San Francisco company said.
The mask verification is being rolled out in the United States and Canada by the end of the month, and across Latin America and other countries after that, the company said.
A policy already in place allows riders and drivers to cancel trips without penalty should the other person not be wearing a mask.
Uber's move comes as transportation companies, including airlines, step up enforcement of mask policies, with all U.S. airlines requiring passengers to wear facial coverings on their planes.
But, as many businesses can attest, a small number of customers are disinclined to follow the rules.
Delta Air Lines has banned at least 240 people from flying over their refusal to follow its rule, CNN reported. A Delta flight from Detroit to Atlanta in late July returned to the gate after two customers refused to comply with the mask requirement.
Uber's new rule expands on one the company imposed in May. At that time it required everyone in Uber cars to wear masks but asked drivers and Uber Eats delivery people to prove they were masked, by taking a selfie showing that their mouths and noses were covered.
Now riders, too, will have to provide photographic evidence that they're wearing a mask, if they were previously reported as not doing so. "With the addition of this new feature, one driver's feedback can help ensure the safety of Uber for the next driver," Uber said.
Uber claims the verification tool uses technology that detects the mask as an object in the photo and doesn't process biometric information.
Uber competitor Lyft also requires passengers to wear masks and sit in the back seat with their window rolled down for air flow.