Uber and Lyft drop mask requirements for US drivers and passengers

The moves come after a judge overturned a key federal mask mandate.

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LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 16: A young passenger wears a face mask as Uber and Lyft drivers with Rideshare Drivers United and the
 Transport Workers Union of America conduct a ‘caravan protest’ outside the California Labor Commissioner’s office amidst the coronavirus pandemic on April 16, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. The drivers called for California to enforce the AB 5 law so that they may qualify for unemployment insurance as the spread of COVID-19 continues. Drivers also called for receiving back wages they say they are owed. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Mario Tama/Getty Images

You no longer need to wear a mask to ride with Uber or Lyft n the US. Uber has dropped mask requirements for US drivers and passengers as of today (April 19th). Lyft, meanwhile, announced that mask wearing is now optional in the country. Both ridesharing firms now let you sit in the front passenger seat, although Uber said this should only be done if a party is too large to fit exclusively in the back.

Uber stressed that the CDC still recommends masks for people who either have some "risk factors" for COVID-19 or live in areas where there are high virus transmission levels. Lyft also noted that some local governments might still require masks, but it no longer accepts health safety as a reason for cancelling a trip.

The decisions aren't voluntary. A federal judge in Florida overturned a federal mandate for masks aboard public transportation on Monday, leading major airlines and Amtrak to drop their requirements. Some public transit systems (such as those in New Jersey and Washington, DC) have also lifted their demands. Uber and Lyft are just following suit, in other words. It's not yet clear if the federal government will challenge the ruling.

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The move won't be welcome by everyone. The pandemic is still ongoing, and people who are immunocompromised or otherwise at high risk may be particularly reluctant to avoid cars with maskless drivers. These travellers now have fewer options for getting around, and may have to rely on friends or family to minimize the chances of an infection.

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