In the second part of our series about traveling during the pandemic, we look at minimizing risk while using public transportation or ride hailing services. If you’re hiring a car or hailing a cab during the pandemic, consider a few safety steps. “There you have the driver, who’s an unknown quantity," says Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University. "But of course, the big answer to that is wear your mask.”
Masks are mandatory for drivers and riders using Lyft and Uber. Lyft instituted a health safety program, requiring everyone to agree to ride only if symptom free, to keep vehicles clean, ride in the back seat, and open windows when possible. The company is also providing partition shields to frequent drivers.
Joe Allen directs the Healthy Buildings Program at Harvard University. He has studied the difference open windows can make. He says: “If someone’s sick in the car, coughing or sneezing, and shedding virus, just cracking the windows even three inches can significantly reduce the amount of airborne virus in that car."
Uber’s guidelines include technology that verifies the driver and some riders are wearing masks, reducing the maximum number of passengers, and providing drivers with 50 million dollars’ worth of cleaning supplies and PPE.
Both Uber and Lyft suspended shared ride options in March, so you won’t be riding with any strangers in the back seat.
Uber has partnered with Clorox, bringing hundreds of thousands of canisters of disinfecting wipes to drivers’ vehicles.
If you take public transportation, you have less control over your environment. Dr. Schaffner says try to keep your distance from others. Use a wipe to sanitize any surfaces you touch. And if you can, travel during off hours to minimize potential crowds.