TAMPA, Fla. — If you plan to start your weekend by taking an Uber somewhere, make sure to bring your mask.
By now, wearing a mask for most of us feels like second nature, but some drivers say that’s not the case for everyone.
“For about 25% it’s an argument,” said Sameer Abdel, an Uber driver.
Uber says over the past few months, they’ve heard from concerned drivers that not all riders are following the company's mandatory mask policy.
“If they don’t have the mask, I close it off. And I make a report to Uber,” said Vernon Walker, who says he’s taken safety into his own hands. “Uber cannot save us, we have to save ourselves.”
But now, Uber is extending its mask-verification technology to include riders.
If a driver reports you for not wearing a mask, you will be required to take a selfie with your mask on before you can request your next ride.
“People who ride an Uber should always wear their mask and drivers should always wear their mask,” said Walker.
The company says repeat offenders will be banned from using the app, but Abdel doesn’t believe it’s fail-proof.
“If people call from home for their children or for their husband or father, they could be the one that doesn’t have the mask,” he said. “ So if I cancel the trip because he doesn’t have a mask but meanwhile they send a picture and they have a mask... that makes me a liar.”
He thinks this could lead to negative feedback. Abdel is at Diamond status with a nearly perfect rating.
“This makes us look bad as a driver,” he said.
But Uber insists if you cancel a trip and select “no face cover or mask” — it will not affect your pro status.
Abdel says Uber should supply extra masks to drivers so they can offer them to riders who show up without them.