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Uber, Lyft drivers and riders exposed to coronavirus may be blocked from using the services

Coronavirus outbreak hits travel industry
Coronavirus outbreak hits travel industry 04:52

Uber might block drivers and passengers from using the ride-hailing service if they've caught the coronavirus disease or have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

"[W]e may temporarily suspend the accounts of riders or drivers confirmed to have contracted or been exposed to COVID-19," Uber said in a post on the company's corporate site.

Uber last month suspended 240 customer accounts in Mexico because of the coronavirus. And last week, an Uber driver in Queens, New York, tested positive for COVID-19 and has been hospitalized. His account has been suspended, the company told CBS MoneyWatch.

Under its new coronavirus policy, Uber pledged to offer financial assistance to any driver diagnosed with COVID-19 or who is asked by health authorities to isolate themselves because of possible exposure to the virus. 

The company did not specify how much money sick drivers will receive. Uber has nearly 4 million drivers, who operate as independent contractors rather than employees.

Uber is providing disinfectant to drivers and allowing customers to arrange drop-off service and locations for their food via Uber Eats. Uber has also hired an epidemiologist for further advice. 

Traveling amid coronavirus: What you should know 03:43

Uber's direct competitor, Lyft, has also said it will suspend drivers and passengers confirmed to have COVID-19. Lyft will give compensation to sick drivers, but didn't disclose how much or the duration of payments. 

"If we are notified of a rider or driver testing positive for COVID-19, they will be temporarily suspended from using Lyft until they are medically cleared," the company said.

Other so-called gig companies that rely on independent contractors are altering their policies because of the virus. Food delivery services Instacart and DoorDash will offer 14 days of pay to workers who are quarantined by public health officials. Postmates has created a fund to help pay the medical expenses of any of its workers who get COVID-19, the company said

"We know that two-thirds of the individuals that carry out deliveries through the Postmates app have health care, but we want to make sure anyone can afford preventative expenses," Postmates executive Vikrum Aiyer said in a statement on Tuesday.

Alex Azar says coronavirus cases may rise throughout the year 04:39

Walmart on Tuesday announced a new emergency leave policy under which any of its 1.4 million hourly workers can receive up to two weeks pay if they have to be quarantined or are diagnosed with the illness. A Walmart executive said the new policy is a response to "unprecedented and uncharted times." 

McDonald's also will pay workers at corporate-owned outlets who must be quarantined for two weeks. More than 90% of McDonald's roughly 36,000 restaurants worldwide are owned and operated by independent franchisees. 

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