Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, face masks are no longer required for Lyft riders and drivers.
Yesterday, Florida federal Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle voided a federal mask mandate on transportation, affecting airplanes, taxis, buses and other forms of mass transit. When it comes to ride-sharing, this reversal of policy applies, too.
First, Uber decided it would no longer require that drivers and riders wear masks. Hours later, Lyft made the same declaration. Masks are now optional on both popular services in the U.S.
While Lyft’s mask requirement was in effect, riders reserved the right to cancel a trip if the driver wasn’t wearing a mask. Now, Lyft is removing that option from its app. Similarly, Uber reminded customers that under these new policies, they can always cancel a ride if they don’t feel comfortable — but canceling a ride can leave the rider with a fee.
Both Uber and Lyft will also no longer prohibit riders from sitting in the passenger seat, though Uber encourages riders to sit in the back unless their party is large enough that the front seat is needed. Drivers will also no longer be required to leave the windows open.
“We know that everyone has different comfort levels, and anyone who wants to continue wearing a mask is encouraged to do so,” Lyft said in a blog post. But policies like these are likely to increase COVID-19 transmission; even if the driver or rider themself chooses to wear a mask, they will be more likely to contract or transmit the coronavirus if the other person in the car is unmasked.
Other private travel companies like American Airlines, Amtrak, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit and United Airlines have removed their mask mandates this week. Notably, some public transit services like New York City’s MTA have upheld their mask requirement, while others, like Philadelphia’s SEPTA, are no longer requiring masks.