Covid-19: US transportation companies to enforce face mask on passengers, drivers

by MCR Correspondent

Transportation companies in the United States have begun move to ensure that travelers and drivers wear masks to curtail the spread of Covid-19.

Joining a growing list of transportation companies in the country, two major ride-hailing giants, Uber and Lyft are also requiring drivers and passengers to wear masks while using their services.

All major US airlines have already rolled out requirements for passengers and crew to wear face coverings in response to concerns over contagion, particularly in small or confined spaces that present higher risks of infection than well-ventilated or outdoor settings.

But pilots worry that travelers could remove their masks and spark a confrontation with others during a flight.

The companies are hereby pressing the Federal Aviation Administration to require masks instead of leaving it up to individual airlines.

“I can’t imagine the stir on the airplane if someone takes off their mask,” said Dennis Tajer, a 737 pilot and spokesman for the pilots’ union at American Airlines.

“It puts the flight crew in a precarious position,” he added.

In ride-hailing vehicles, Uber will make drivers upload a mask-wearing selfie into the app before they can pick up a passenger.

“Riders also will be required to wear a mask, but they won’t have to provide proof. Either the rider or driver can cancel a ride if the other person doesn’t wear a mask, and repeat violators can be kicked off the platform.

Lyft is providing one reusable cloth mask to each driver and has been distributing hand sanitizer. Uber has distributed disposable masks or cleaning supplies to about 400,000 drivers globally, distributing packs of five or ten masks and encouraging drivers to use one per day, said Sachin Kansal, Uber’s head of safety products,” the company disclosed.

Jerome Gage, who drives for Lyft in Los Angeles, affirmed that Uber and Lyft had provided enough to keep drivers and passengers safe.

“If we were to just rely on what Uber and Lyft provided to us, our cars would be like a cesspool, potentially, for this disease,” Gage said.

Adequate measures are being taken to enforce masks among air travelers.

American Airlines has told pilots that gate agents may deny passengers from boarding if they aren’t wearing a mask but it doesn’t expect crews to continue policing once they’re in the air.

“Once on board and off the gate, the face covering policy will become more lenient,” according to an American Airlines memo to pilots.

“The flight attendant’s role is informational, not enforcement, with respect to the face covering policy. The flight attendants are instructed not to escalate the issue if the passenger refuses to wear a face covering and to consider options, such as reseating if other passengers are involved, to defuse the situation,” the memo reads.

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