Mar 17, 2020 - Economy & Business

Uber Pool service halted amid coronavirus outbreak

Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Uber suspended its Uber Pool service in the United States and Canada in an attempt to help protect riders and drivers from the novel coronavirus pandemic, the company announced Tuesday, per TechCrunch.

What they're saying: “Our goal is to help flatten the curve of community spread in the cities we serve," Andrew Macdonald, senior vice president of Uber Rides and Platform, told BuzzFeed in a statement. “We remain in close contact with local leaders and will continue to work with them to discourage non-essential travel.”

Zoom out: Uber Pool allows passengers to share rides. Other Uber rides, including UberX and deliveries with UberEats, will remain available, per an email sent to the company's drivers Tuesday morning.

  • The ride-hailing app now displays a message for riders, advising users to “travel only if necessary,” and “exercise caution for your safety and the safety of our community.”

Go deeper: Coronavirus throws cities into crisis mode

Go deeper

Uber temporarily closes local hubs for drivers amid virus outbreak

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Uber has temporarily closed its U.S. and Canada Greenlight Hubs, where drivers can go to get in-person help with answering questions and completing forms, in an effort to help lessen the spread of the coronavirus.

Why it matters: Uber and other gig economy companies have faced mounting questions over how they'll help their thousands of drivers (who are not employees) given the very social nature of their work.

Scoop: Uber CEO asks Trump to include drivers in economic stimulus

Photo Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Uber is asking the U.S. government to include independent contractors in its economic stimulus plans, according to a letter being sent Monday morning by CEO Dara Khosrowshahi to President Trump. The company is not asking for a bailout or loans.

Why it matters: Many of the proposals floated for a relief bill that Congress is assembling have included new protections and benefits for employees, but that category excludes millions of "gig economy" drivers and delivery people.

How Uber will compensate drivers affected by COVID-19

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Uber released more details about how it will compensate drivers affected by COVID-19, which will be based on their average daily earnings over the last six months.

Why it matters: Ride-hailing and delivery drivers are among the most vulnerable as the virus spreads, both because of the very social nature of their jobs and because they don't qualify for sick leave as independent contractors.