Lyft today announced a new health initiative that will require drivers and riders to wear face masks or coverings during rides. Additionally, Lyft says it will provide cleaning supplies and masks for drivers.
Riders and drivers must all confirm they will cover their faces and not ride or drive with Lyft if they have COVID-19 or any symptoms. Drivers must also agree to keep their vehicles and hands clean and keep windows open when possible. Lastly, riders must agree to not ride in the front seat.
Before riding or driving, both riders and drivers will be prompted to confirm they will follow Lyft's new personal health requirements. If a rider or driver repeatedly violates the order, their accounts will be subject to suspension.
"We believe being part of the Lyft community comes with shared responsibility," Lyft VP of Global Operations Angie Westbrock said on a press call today. "When you wear a mask, you're demonstrating to someone that you care about them... This helps give both sides -- riders and drivers -- that extra peace of mind during this time."
So far, Lyft has dedicated $2.5 million to purchase hundreds of bottles of hand sanitizers and masks for drivers. To get these supplies, Lyft says it will notify drivers exactly where and when they will be able to pick them up. Lyft has so far provided individual drivers with one reusable mask and says it's exploring partitions. Similarly, Uber announced plans to start requiring riders and drivers to wear face coverings during rides earlier this week.
Lyft's efforts to make its rides safer comes shortly after Lyft laid off 982 employees and furloughed another 288 due to the global health crisis. Meanwhile, Lyft and Uber are facing a new lawsuit from California Attorney General Xavier Becerra over the alleged misclassification of drivers. The suit argues Uber and Lyft are depriving workers of the right to minimum wage, overtime, access to paid sick leave, disability insurance and unemployment insurance. The lawsuit, filed in the Superior Court of San Francisco, seeks $2,500 in penalties for each violation, possibly per driver, under the California Unfair Competition Law, and another $2,500 for violations against senior citizens or people with disabilities.