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Uber and Lyft drop mask requirement for riders and drivers in the U.S.

April 19, 2022, 4:37 PM UTC

Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc. will no longer ask riders and drivers in the U.S. to wear masks, joining a growing number of major transport providers shifting their policies. 

The ride-hailing giants’ relaxing of their rules comes after U.S. airlines said they would no longer require travelers or employees to wear face coverings on domestic and some international flights. A U.S. judge on Monday overturned a federal mandate for passengers to cover their faces. 

“Remember: many people still feel safer wearing a mask because of personal or family health situations, so please be respectful of their preferences,” Uber said in a statement.

Both companies also said they will allow riders to sit in the front passenger seat. “While riders and drivers can always cancel any ride they don’t wish to take, health safety reasons—like not wearing a mask—will no longer appear as cancellation options in the app,” Lyft said in a blog post.

In the U.K., Uber’s other major market, the company already relaxed its rules for mask-wearing in line with government advice. 

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Monday that companies would no longer be able to order passengers to wear masks on public transportation, although both agencies recommended their continued use.

COVID restrictions in the U.S. have eased after a decline in case numbers from a January peak caused by the Omicron variant. Almost 1 million Americans have died of COVID in the past two years, and hundreds more continue to die every day.

New York recently delayed plans to remove the mask mandate in city schools and day-care centers for children under age 5, saying cases of COVID-19 are rising again.

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