What You Need to Know if You Have to Take an Uber or Lyft Right Now

Both ride-hailing apps have introduced new rules and guidelines for keeping you and drivers safe.

Now is not the time to be taking Ubers and Lyfts liberally, but if it's absolutely essential you hail a car, there are new guidelines you should to know. Both companies have updated their protocol in response to the COVID-19 outbreak with procedures that will likely long outlast these shelter-in-place mandates.

Here's what you need to know if you're planning to ride: 

Uber 

In early May, Uber confirmed news that it would require both riders and drivers to wear face coverings, USA Today reports. And the honor system won't be enough to ensure employee compliance. 

Drivers, for both Uber and Uber Eats, will be required to fill out a new online checklist verifying they've followed specific safety measures before they're able to start a trip or delivery, which includes the company's new selfie software that will verify a driver is wearing the proper face covering.

Uber has also launched a similar checklist for riders to confirm they've taken proper precautions (face mask, hand washing, etc.) before riding. The suggested maximum number of passengers for an UberX has also been updated from four individuals to three. 

"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," head of safety communications Andrew Hasbun said in a statement to CNN Business. "At the same time, our teams are preparing for the next phase of recovery, where we will all have a role to play." 

That's not the only update Uber has made, however. The company also rolled out a number of health procedures to ensure both rider and driver safety, including temporarily nixing its ride-sharing option. Uber is providing disinfectants and masks to millions of employees while encouraging both parties to also wash hands before and after rides and ride with the windows open when possible. Customers are also asked to ride in the back seat to ensure social distancing, but then again, you're doing that most of the time anyway, right? 

And while recommendations will likely change as the situation continues to develop, Uber maintains that riders should stay home when possible. 

"This will help limit the spread of the virus and flatten the curve," the website reads. "Let's help keep drivers safe and ensure that rides are available for those who need them." 

Lyft

Shortly after Uber announced its mask policy, Lyft jumped aboard with its own. On Thursday, the competitor said that not only will drivers and riders be required to wear face coverings, but both camps will also have to disclose whether they've experienced any coronavirus symptoms, as part of its personal health certification

"Before using Lyft, every rider and driver will be required to self-certify that they will wear face masks throughout the ride, are symptom-free, and will follow CDC and local guidelines related to COVID-19," Lyft said in a statement earlier this week. 

Vehicles will also be cleaned and sanitized, along with the obvious hand washing. Like Uber, passengers are also required to avoid the front seat and should keep windows open to provide better ventilation to slow the spread of germs. 

"With guidance from the CDC, Public Health Agency of Canada, WHO, and local officials, Lyft is taking action to build products and implement policies that help keep riders and drivers safe, as well as empower our community to protect themselves and those around them," VP of global operations and head of Lyft’s COVID-19 response task force Angie Westbrock said on Lyft's website. "We want these new initiatives to have a meaningful impact and set a new standard for rideshare health safety."

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Megan Schaltegger is a staff writer at Thrillist.