As health officials call for social distancing amid the global coronavirus pandemic as a means of mitigating its spread, Uber has announced that it’s suspended all Pool services in the United States and Canada as of Tuesday.
The company said the decision was made based on information from a consulting epidemiologist, health authorities, and conversations with local governments. Uber Pool can match as many as four riders in a car with a single Uber driver, undermining the necessary social distancing of at least 6 feet that has been recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A spokesperson told Gizmodo that the company is “continuing to monitor developments in other cities and will take similar action if needed.”
“Our goal is to help flatten the curve of community spread in the cities we serve,” Andrew Macdonald, SVP of Uber Rides and Platform, told Gizmodo in a statement by email. “We remain in close contact with local leaders and will continue to work with them to discourage non-essential travel.”
The company said that users will also now see in-app messaging encouraging them to “flatten the curve” and “travel only when necessary.”
The company said its Uber Eats and Rides services are still available, but that those are subject to change based on information from local governments and health authorities. The company said that it’s supplying drivers with disinfectants in cities with the “greatest need,” citing limited supplies. Following mounting public backlash, Uber—along with rival rideshare company Lyft—said it would offer paid sick leave to workers who were diagnosed with covid-19 or placed in quarantine by a health authority.
Within the app, the service may still be listed with an “unavailable” tag. However, if you try to order a Pool, Uber displays a message that the service is “suspended until further notice” and you will be unable to book the trip.
It wasn’t clear at press time whether Lyft will also be suspending its rideshare option, and the company did not immediately return a request for comment. As of Tuesday morning, the Shared Saver option was still functional within the Lyft app, indicating the company has not yet suspended shared services.
Update: Lyft confirmed to Gizmodo shortly after publication that it too was pausing shared rides across all of its markets.
“The health and safety of the Lyft community is our top priority, and we’re dedicated to doing what we can to slow the spread of COVID-19,” the company said in a statement. “We will continue to monitor the situation closely and base our actions on official guidance.”
We’ve updated the headline to reflect this change.
Update: Uber told Gizmodo it has also suspended Pool rides in London and Paris.