• Uber passengers and drivers will soon be required to wear face masks before being allowed to pick up passengers.
  • Uber is working on facial recognition technology capable of identifying when a driver is wearing a face covering.
  • The rule will be applied in areas hit especially hard by the coronavirus pandemic.
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With the coronavirus bringing much of the country to a standstill, essential businesses that have been allowed to remain open have been forced to tweak the way they do business. Restaurants, for example, now require patrons picking up food to adhere to social distancing guidelines. Some grocery stores, meanwhile, have started limiting the number of customers that can be inside at a given time.

Additionally, many states recently started implementing new guidelines with respect to wearing face masks out in public. In Illinois, for example, grocery stores — or any type of establishment that draws in large numbers of people — will not even let customers inside if they’re not wearing a face covering. It’s essentially something of a trade-off as some states begin to relax stay-at-home directives.

In a similar vein, CNN recently learned that Uber is planning to implement a new rule which will demand that both drivers and passengers wear a face covering of some sort. The company has reportedly been exploring a type of face recognition technology capable of identifying when a driver is adequately covered. Per the report, drivers will only be able to start picking up passengers once they log-in and receive approval via the app. It’s possible that a similar requirement with respect to passengers will be implemented as well.

Uber’s new rule with respect to face coverings will not be applied across the board in all areas. Presumably, the face covering requirement will only go into effect in areas that have been hit particularly hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement on the matter, Uber’s Andrew Hasbun said:

As countries reopen, Uber is focused on safety and proceeding with caution. Today, we continue to ask riders to stay home if they can, while shipping safety supplies to drivers who are providing essential trips. At the same time, our teams are preparing for the next phase of recovery, where we will all have a role to play.

Uber’s decision here isn’t all that surprising, especially in light of the fact that the coronavirus spreads much easier and more efficiently than other influenza viruses. In turn, something like an Uber vehicle could be a hotbed for transmission, which is to say it’s encouraging to see Uber take a pro-active approach to public safety as coronavirus-related restrictions start to loosen up. It’s also worth mentioning that Uber last month started shipping hand sanitizer bottles and millions of face masks to drivers in cities like New York City.

A life long Mac user and Apple enthusiast, Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large for over 6 years. His writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and most recently, TUAW. When not writing about and analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions, the most recent examples being The Walking Dead and Broad City.