Ride-sharing giant Uber is to make it mandatory for passengers and drivers to wear face coverings from Monday in the UK.
The minicab app firm said it was taking measures “to help everyone stay safe” and had introduced measures to give drivers access to protective equipment.
Face coverings will become compulsory on public transport and in hospitals in England from Monday.
It comes after a study suggested masks could cut Covid-19 spread by up to 40%.
Uber drivers in London will have to submit a picture of themselves to verify they are following the new rules before they can begin working.
Other measures include trialling in-car partitions in Newcastle, Tyne and Wear, distributing more than two million masks to drivers and sending out 54,000 units of cleaning spray and hand sanitiser.
Uber’s regional general manager for northern and eastern Europe, Jamie Heywood, said: “For months we’ve been urging people to stay home, for their safety and the safety of drivers who make essential trips.
“Now, as cities begin to reopen and people start moving again, we’re taking measures to help everyone stay safe and healthy every time they use Uber.”
‘Potentially useful tool’
Research on face coverings has been described as “slim” by many authorities, and for health professionals there’s always been the fear of a rush to snap up medical-grade masks.
But studies in laboratories have shown not only how far droplets can be spread by coughs but also how various kinds of materials can dramatically reduce how many of those droplets do get through.
A homemade mask will not do a great job of protecting you but may reduce the chances of you infecting others.
And if enough people follow that advice, the risks of the infection spreading are brought down.
There have been passionate disagreements over this within the world of science.
And even advocates would agree that the public wearing masks will not defeat the virus on its own; but it’s a potentially useful extra tool as we come out of lockdown.
From Monday, face coverings will be compulsory on public transport in England.
Scotland already recommends wearing coverings in shops and on public transport.
People in Wales are asked to wear three-layer face coverings on public transport and other situations where social distancing is not possible.
Face coverings on public transport are also recommended in Northern Ireland.
According to government figures, the average person in England made 10 taxi or private hire vehicle trips last year with an average duration of 20 minutes per trip.
More than a third of all licensed vehicles in England are registered in London. Uber said its platform was used to complete 10 billion trips worldwide in 2018.