Wednesday 13 May 2020 7:10 pm

Uber to spend $50m on safety kit as it tells drivers and passengers to wear masks

Uber has set aside $50m (£41m) to buy personal protective equipment for drivers as it introduces new rules requiring all users to wear face masks.

Chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi today told reporters that the ride-hailing app will roll out a string of new safety measures as it looks to address concerns about the Covid-19 pandemic.

Read more: Uber to cut 3,700 employees as ride-hailing demand slumps due to coronavirus

From next week Uber will require passengers in most countries to wear face masks, while front seating will no longer be allowed.

Drivers will also be required to wear face coverings, and the firm will introduce new selfie technology to verify their use of a mask before beginning a journey.

The San Francisco-based firm today said it would spend $50m on masks, hand sanitiser and vehicle disinfectants to help protect its drivers.

So far the ride-hailing app has acquired more than 20m masks and has distributed 5m of these to drivers.

Both riders and drivers will be able to cancel a trip if the other is not wearing a face mask.

The safety push comes as Uber battles a sharp downturn in demand for its services during the coronavirus lockdown.

Last week the company said it will cut almost 4,000 jobs as it looks to save cash. Boss Khosrowshahi will also forgo his salary for the rest of the year.

The firm has instead turned its attention to its food delivery service Uber Eats, which has enjoyed increased demand during the pandemic.

Read more: Uber leads $170m investment round in scooter startup Lime

Yesterday it emerged Uber had entered into negotiations with rival food delivery firm Grubhub over a potential acquisition.

Uber has made an all-stock offer for the company but the two sides remain at odds over the price tag, Reuters reported, citing sources.