Uber suspends pooled rides in US, Canada to halt coronavirus spread

Uber halted pooled rides in the US and Canada Tuesday in an effort to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The ride-hailing giant said it suspended its Uber Pool service, which allows as many as four people headed in the same direction to share one car. The move comes as officials around the US urge people to stay inside as much as possible to stem the coronavirus pandemic that has sickened more than 4,600 people in the country, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

“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, said in a statement. “We remain in close contact with local leaders and will continue to work with them to discourage non-essential travel.”

The Uber app on Tuesday morning listed the Pool ride option as “unavailable” when the user entered a destination. Uber’s regular rides and its Uber Eats food-delivery service are still available for now, but the company said it may adjust operations as needed as it remains in contact with public health authorities and local governments.

Uber said it is also showing US and Canada riders a message in the app reminding them to travel only when necessary.

The suspension came a day after the Independent Drivers Guild, a labor group for app-based drivers, called on Uber and Lyft to stop offering shared rides amid growing fears about the coronavirus. Lyft did not immediately respond to an email asking whether it would also suspend shared rides.

Uber has said it will suspend the accounts of drivers and riders who test positive for the coronavirus or may have been exposed to it. The San Francisco-based company is also providing drivers disinfectants to help keep their cars clean and waiving delivery fees for independent restaurants using its Uber Eats service in the US and Canada.

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