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Uber and Uber Eats will launch new safety protocols next week.

New Uber Eats coronavirus safety protocols emphasize accountability of restaurants, consumers, drivers

Drivers must complete a safety checklist that includes taking a photograph of themselves wearing a mask before they can start their day.

Uber, which operates Uber Eats, revealed Wednesday new safety procedures that will launch Monday, May 18, for both its delivery and ride-sharing divisions.

The announcement focused primiarly on the company’s ride-sharing division, but many of the new safety protocols apply to Uber Eats couriers or drivers, the company said. For example, starting May 18, all Uber drivers, including Eats couriers, will be required to wear masks. 

Before hitting the road, drivers will have to go through a checklist within the app. Drivers must confirm they are wearing a mask or face covering; they must confirm they are not driving with COVID-19 symptoms; they must confirm they have sanitized their car; and they must agree to regularly wash and sanitize their hands. Safety videos are also available to drivers within the app.

Drivers must take the additional step of documenting that they are wearing a mask by taking a selfie and uploading that photo in the app. Uber software developers have created imaging technology that will reject any photo that doesn't show a driver wearing a mask.

“We understand that accountability starts with us, with Uber, and we take that very seriously,” said Sachin Kansal, senior director of product management at Uber. “We are taking a strong stand on safety.”

Developers have also expanded the company's feedback or rating system. These so-called “Feedback Loops” give everyone within a transaction — drivers, consumers and restaurants — the ability to comment on specific COVID-19 safety procedures. For example, “No social distancing” or “Could not sanitize hands" are new feedback options for couriers to choose when giving feedback on a restaurant.

“And if they [drivers] feel that the pickup experience at that restaurant is really less than ideal, they can provide us that feedback,” Kansal said.

Restaurants also can provide feedback on drivers, especially if they notice a driver is not wearing a mask when picking up orders. The same is true for consumers. They can select “No face cover or mask” if a driver is spotted without protective gear. 

Uber Eats customers can also note safety issues like drivers who “Had to Meet” them at the door.

Uber said the feedback, which extends from order pick up to delivery, will give Uber the kind of information it needs to hold everyone within the system accountable.

If a driver, for example, is consistently not wearing a mask then Uber can remove them from the system. 

While couriers are waiting for food in the restaurant, Uber said the app will send drivers reminders to maintain space from others while they wait. If a restaurant has certain safety guidelines for couriers, Uber said they will embed those procedures in the app so drivers can follow guidance at each restaurant.

Restaurants using Uber Eats can send the last-mile delivery operator all their safety measures, so consumers can view them on the app when ordering.

Ultimately, everyone has to be accountable to create a safe environment, Uber said.

“These feedback loops between all the parties are extremely important for us to maintain safety,” Kansal said.

The company, which did not address recent reports of its interest in buying Grubhub, said it has spent $50 million on supplies such as single-use masks, disinfectant sprays and wipes, hand sanitizer and gloves.

“As we move into the new normal, it’s our goal to encourage this same sense of shared responsibility: Uber, riders, drivers, delivery people and restaurants—we all have a role to play in keeping each other safe and healthy,” CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said in a letter posted on the company’s website.

For our most up-to-date coverage, visit the coronavirus homepage.

Contact Nancy Luna at [email protected] 

Follow her on Twitter: @fastfoodmaven

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