Uber passengers and drivers in the UK will have to wear face coverings from Monday and can be denied service if they refuse

Uber passengers and drivers in the UK will have to wear face coverings from Monday and can be denied service if they refuse
An Uber driver in California wearing a face mask.Mario Tama/Getty Images
  • Uber passengers and drivers in the UK will have to wear a face covering from Monday 15 June to take rides, the company announced.
  • Uber drivers in London will have to take a selfie to prove they are wearing a face covering and won't be permitted to log on to accept rides otherwise.
  • Riders who don't wear a face mask or face covering can be refused service by drivers.
  • England is slowly opening up its nationwide lockdown, with non-essential shops set to open from Monday.

If you want to take an Uber ride in the UK from Monday, you'll need to wear a face covering.

The company has mandated that both passengers and drivers will need to wear a face mask or covering while taking rides from June 15.

Passengers who refuse can be denied service by drivers, with drivers able to cancel ride requests without a penalty fee.

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And drivers in London must prove they're wearing a face mask. Uber said it will use a new object recognition feature to determine whether a driver is wearing a mask and, if they aren't, the driver won't be permitted to log in and accept fares.

Asked for clarification about how this works, an Uber spokeswoman told Business Insider that when a driver opens their app to log on, they will be prompted to take a selfie with a face covering on. "Our Face Covering Verification tool then uses object recognition technology to assess the presence of a face mask or covering in the image," she said. "Drivers will only be allowed to go online if a mask or face covering is detected."


The spokeswoman said the firm was confident in the accuracy of the new tool, which has already been rolled out in other countries.

Uber's advice on what qualifies as a face mask is in line with UK government guidance, which states that a scarf or hand-made mask covering the face would suffice.

There will be new options inside the app for riders to provide feedback on safety precautions taken by drivers.

Drivers will also have to confirm in the app that they are both sanitizing their cars regularly and washing their hands — though with many public facilities and restaurants closed restricting bathroom access while they're working, it isn't clear how they're meant to do this.

Riders will be advised to wash their hands before taking a ride and to roll down the windows for ventilation.


Uber said it will eventually roll out the same object-recognition technology across the whole UK, and that it had distributed more than two million masks to drivers across the country, as well as cleaning spray and hand sanitizer.

The news comes as two British Uber drivers argue a case against the government in the High Court, accusing ministers of failing to protect low-paid gig workers during the pandemic. Ride hailing has fallen drastically around the world over the last three months as countries maintained strict lockdowns, and any drivers relying predominantly on Uber for income will have been hard hit. In a statement on Thursday one of the drivers in the claim, Ahmad Adiatu, said he had no income but still had to pay monthly costs around car maintenance and insurance that totalled up to £1,000.

In March, Uber said ridership was down as much as 70% in cities most affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

The UK has been among the hardest hit by the coronavirus, with more than 40,000 deaths to date and a delayed lockdown. England is slowly emerging from its lockdown, with non-essential shops reopening from Monday and more relaxed rules around visiting friends and family.

Uber UK country manager Jamie Heywood said in a statement: "For months we've been urging people to stay home, for their safety and the safety of drivers who make essential trips.


"Now, as cities begin to reopen and people start moving again, we're taking measures to help everyone stay safe and healthy every time they use Uber. We've introduced measures to ensure that every driver can access the PPE they need for free to help keep them. safe when driving with Uber, and from Monday, we will require anyone using the Uber app in the UK to wear a face covering."