Easily the biggest rideshare news story of the week is Uber and Lyft dropping their mask mandates on April 19, 2022. While some drivers are celebrating, several are hesitant and worried.
Uber and Lyft Drop Mask Requirement Policy
Prior to this news, Uber and Lyft instituted a mask mandate, which has been in place due to the pandemic under Federal orders for all forms of transportation — buses, trains, planes, rideshare, etc.
Earlier this week, a judge ruled that the mask mandate for travel should be voided, stating that it exceeded the authority of U.S. health officials.
The action of this judge immediately superseded the CDC’s order to wear masks when using public transportation, though it’s still highly encouraged by the department. The judge also ruled that the CDC did not follow proper protocol in implementing the mask mandate rule.
We covered the breaking news on YouTube here: BREAKING: Uber And Lyft Drop Mask Policy For Drivers And Riders
What Changes for Drivers?
It’ll be like nothing has changed for some drivers, partially because some drivers have never enforced the rule and have not followed it themselves. Many drivers feel that since it is their vehicle, they have the final say over what goes on inside of it, regardless of Federal or Uber/Lyft rules.
Others will likely continue to have masks on hand to accommodate passengers who request the drivers wear one due to health concerns. A passenger may be immunocompromised and would prefer their drivers help out by going the extra step to wear a mask while transporting them.
Finally, others still may continue wearing masks. Just because the mandate has ended doesn’t mean the pandemic has magically disappeared off the face of the earth. Other variants are still mutating around the world, and there are still concerns out there surrounding Covid.
What Drivers REALLY Don’t Like: Passengers Sitting Upfront
Along with the mask change, Uber and Lyft also will now allow passengers to sit up front once more. During the pandemic, standard X rides were limited to 3 passengers, with the understanding that no one could sit up front to attempt to maintain social distancing. This was the same for XL rides; passenger requests were limited to 5 passengers instead of the previous allowance of 6.
What do drivers have to say about this? We asked in this RSG video on YouTube: What Drivers Have To Say About Uber And Lyft Dropping The Mask Mandate
RSG asked drivers to give their opinions on YouTube and Facebook. Here are some of their responses:
Joel H. on RSG’s YouTube channel said, “As a rideshare driver I’m still using my mask, but I’m not making a big deal if the passenger doesn’t wear one. Due to safety, no one in the front.”
BamaGuyRTR said, “Covid was already a thing when I started giving rides and I feel like I still wouldn’t want someone in the front seat if it wasn’t a thing. I always wore a mask, but I never pressed it on the rider. Either they wanted to or not, but I would wear mine.”
“About Damn time is what I say as a driver and a rider,” said trealsteve.
Others pointed out that they haven’t driven a passenger since March 2020 when the pandemic was declared by the World Health Organization (WHO), but instead have been doing food delivery services and will continue to do so.
Some wish they would have received some kind of notice instead of having a change happen overnight.
On RSG’s Facebook page, Michael A. said, “I don’t want anyone in the front seat with me. They should have told us in advance of the change. I deliberately have stuff in the front seat to make it clear not to sit there.”
Along those lines, Chris L. pointed out, “As an XL driver I had a ton of groups of 4 that couldn’t get UberX. I’m going to miss that easy money.”
Driver Chris was banking off of the change in policy due to the pandemic. Does this change mean XL drivers will start receiving fewer requests? On the flip side, X drivers have been told to turn down rides if they show up to 4 passengers. So, maybe things will just balance back out to pre-pandemic numbers of requests, for good or bad.
As you can see, there’s clearly a split between drivers. Should we wear masks, or should we not? Should the front seat be open? Should it still be off-limits?
What do you think about the changes to Uber and Lyft’s mask policy? Are you annoyed by having passengers sit in your front seat? Sound off in the comments!
-Paula @ RSG