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Uber has rebuilt its app to make sure its drivers and riders adhere to safety guidelines around the novel coronavirus. Before each trip, driver and passengers will now have to agree to a checklist of items, including wearing a face mask, keeping windows rolled down when possible and have no one sitting in the front seat.
"Many countries around the world are moving to a new phase of recovery," Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said during a press call on Wednesday. "We've built a new product experience for a new normal."
Khosrowshahi said the company has seen rides start to pick up as shelter-in-place orders have eased. In order to keep drivers and passengers safe and help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, he said Uber decided to redesign its app with a focus on health safety.
"The next time you open the app things are going to look a little different for both riders and drivers," Khosrowshahi said.
Uber drivers say they've experienced a difficult time during the pandemic. Many have reported coming down with COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, and at least five are known to have died from the disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended people avoid sitting in confined spaces with strangers, such as a car, to lower the risk of infection.
"As cities and countries emerge out of this lockdown, all of us will have to work together to keep each other safe and healthy as we travel," Sanchin Kansal, Uber's senior director of product management, said during the press call. "The technology we've built is flexible and adaptable… And it's going to evolve over time."
Uber redesigned its apps for both riders and drivers. For riders, when requesting a trip, they'll first be taken to a checklist. This includes agreeing they have no COVID-19 symptoms and saying they'll wear a mask, open the windows and sit in the back seat. Only then will Uber's system start looking for a driver.
Similarly, when drivers log onto the app, they'll also have to agree to a checklist. This list includes not having symptoms, wearing a mask and disinfecting the car. Drivers will additionally be required to take a selfie wearing a mask to be able to start driving.
Uber is doing similar safety measures for Uber Eats. Food delivery workers have to agree to wear face coverings at all times and follow customer instructions, like leaving food at the door. Restaurants will also have guidelines, such as having social distancing in place for couriers as they wait.
In all of these instances, drivers, riders, couriers and restaurants will be able to report if someone isn't following the rules. For example, if a passenger takes off their mask during a ride, a driver can report the incident to Uber. If someone has repeat violations, they may be kicked off the app.
"Our goal here is to keep everyone safe," Kansal said. "We understand accountability starts with us."
Uber said it redesigned its apps with guidance from the World Health Organization and the CDC. The changes will roll out worldwide on Monday, May 18.
This story is developing…