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Uber to require that riders and drivers wear masks to curb coronavirus risks

Questions still remain as cities gear up to reopen

Uber and Lyft are hoping that the growing use of face masks amid the coronavirus outbreak will make customers comfortable enough to climb back into ride-sharing vehicles.

Uber will soon require that both passengers and drivers wear masks or face coverings in certain markets. The company confirmed a CNN report saying that Uber would roll out the new policy in coming weeks. Uber did not specify exactly where the new mandate would apply.

"Today, we continue to ask riders to stay home if they can, while shipping safety supplies to drivers who are providing essential trips," an Uber spokesperson said in an email to CBS News. "At the same time, our teams are preparing for the next phase of recovery, where we will all have a role to play. We'll communicate updates directly to users when ready, but in the meantime we continue to urge all riders and drivers to wear masks or face coverings when using Uber." 

Uber is also developing technology that would detect if a driver is wearing a mask or face covering before they begin taking on trips, according to CNN. The company already has facial verification capabilities used to check a driver's identity. 

Rival Lyft said it has been in touch with drivers to make sure they have guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on how to protect themselves, which includes a recommendation to use face coverings.

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"We've also ordered hundreds of thousands of cloth face coverings for drivers and have been making them available to drivers at no cost to them," a Lyft spokesperson said. "We've made drivers aware that it's required by law to wear a face covering in certain regions, and we're prioritizing distribution in regions where additional guidance about face coverings has been given."

Many Uber and Lyft drivers have seen a sharp drop income as consumers stay home during the COVID-19 crisis. Some also have accused the companies of holding up their unemployment benefits despite the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act expanding jobless aid to include gig workers.

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