Uber Ends Mask Requirements, Says Anyone Uncomfortable Can Cancel Trip

Uber has scrapped its requirement for passengers to wear face masks during their journeys in the United States with a major update to its pandemic safety rules.

The company made the announcement on its website on Tuesday, saying: "As of April 19, 2022, riders and drivers are not required to wear masks when using Uber. However, the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] still recommends wearing a mask if you have certain personal risk factors and/or high transmission levels in your area.

"Remember: many people still feel safer wearing a mask because of personal or family health situations, so please be respectful of their preferences. And if you ever feel uncomfortable, you can always cancel the trip."

The move follows announcements by other passenger transportation companies that they are also relaxing their mask guidance, such as United Airlines.

Uber app
Uber has dropped the rule requiring passengers to wear face masks. Pictured: The Uber app on a driver's phone in December, 2021. Getty Images

And it comes almost two years after Uber first instructed passengers masks were mandatory in their vehicles.

The relaxation across the transport industry was sparked by the ruling of a Florida judge, who deemed the federal mask mandate on airplanes, trains and buses "exceeded" the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's authority.

After its statement on the rule change, Uber added a link that leads to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, specifically a page in its COVID-19 section, entitled "Use and Care of Masks." It provides information about who should wear a mask, and when.

Although only just breaking, some passengers were already sharing their delight at the news.

One rider, tweeting under the handle @DangerDonny, posted a screengrab of the relevant section of Uber's website, with the caption: "Yes! @uber no longer requiring masks!"

Before the announcement was made, @myangryaccount1, had tweeted the company to say: "Hey, @Uber, can you drop your ridiculous mask mandate now?"

Uber itself has not yet tweeted about the updated rules.

While some passengers reveled in the new rules, others are likely to be disquieted.

Delta Air Lines drew a sizable backlash this week after claiming "COVID-19 has transitioned to an ordinary seasonal virus" when it scrapped its own mask-wearing requirements.

Uber will remain bound by COVID-19 rules in the individual countries where it operates. For example, in most parts of the U.K., masks have not been mandatory in Uber vehicles for drivers or passengers since the law was relaxed in February, and further rule changes mean that now applies across the whole of the U.K.

In May 2020, Uber had ordered all passengers using its services around the world to wear masks and sit in the back seat only during their rides. At the time, the "safety" page on Uber's website read: "No mask. No ride."

And it added: "We all play a role in helping keep each other safe. That's why as part of our Door-to-Door Safety Standard, riders and drivers are required to wear a face cover or mask, even when vaccinated."

But that rule was scrapped for the U.S. on Tuesday, along with its other COVID-19 guidance, such as banning users from using the front passenger seat.

Uber's website now says: "Riders are no longer required to sit in the back seat. However, to give drivers space, we ask that riders only use the front seat if it's required because of the size of their group."

The statement goes on to add: "We know the pandemic has been difficult. But you've continued to go the extra mile to help protect our communities—whether it's wearing a mask, making space for one another, or giving drivers the respect they deserve. Thank you for that."

Uber told Newsweek it began sending an email out to U.S. Uber riders and drivers on Tuesday morning, alerting them to the company's updated safety policies. The email, seen by Newsweek, states: "As of today, riders and drivers will not be required to wear masks when using Uber. However, the CDC still recommends wearing a mask if you have certain personal risk factors and/or high transmission levels in your area.

"Remember: Many people may still feel safer wearing a mask because of personal or family health situations, so please be respectful of their preferences... It's still important to take safety precautions while riding. So please roll down the windows for extra airflow, sanitize your hands before and after trips, and always cover your cough or sneeze."

Update 4/19/22, 12:32 a.m. ET: This article has been updated with comment from Uber.