April 20, 2022
Photo: Frosina Polazarevska/Unsplash
Good morning! After a federal judge overturned the CDC’s mandate requiring masks to be worn on transit, Uber and Lyft promptly made masking optional for riders and drivers. How do people feel about this decision? Well, it’s complicated. I'm Lizzy Lawrence, and this week, I'm in my “Prince of Egypt” era. Stream Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey's "When You Believe."
Well into year three (ugh) of COVID-19, mask mandates have been dropped by states, counties, companies and now, in what seems to be a turning moment in the pandemic, by airlines and Uber. Transit was one of the final holdouts due to the federal transportation mask mandate until a federal judge in Florida struck down the mandate on Monday. Now people are scrambling to figure out where they need to mask and where they don’t. For the most part, it’s a personal choice (for better or worse), according to President Biden and the swath of transit groups who have decided to make masking optional, despite an uptick in cases with the BA.2 subvariant.
Uber and Lyft have scrapped their mask mandates after two years of having them in place.Both companies announced Tuesday that, following the lead of the TSA and several publictransitagencies, masks would no longer be required for drivers or riders. Both linked their announcements to the CDC order no longer being in effect, but urged riders and drivers to comply with local masking laws.
Unsurprisingly, some people are unhappy about Uber and Lyft’s decisions. Those who are immunocompromised and others who are more vulnerable to COVID-19 are left wondering what happens now that masking is up to individuals. The move leaves more room for confusion and chaos; we’ve all seen videos of disturbing altercations over masks.
Others are relieved. Chris Gerace, a driver in Buffalo, N.Y., said making masks optional rather than a requirement will be less of a hassle. Some of his passengers already were opting not to mask, which was stressful given the requirement. Now, he’ll feel comfortable knowing that he and his passenger are allowed to unmask. “If somebody’s looking to wear their mask, I’ll just say, ‘Hey, do you want me to wear one too?’” Gerace said. “But if they get in the car, and they're not [wearing one], then, you know, that's fine.”
One solution could be an app feature that gives drivers and riders the opportunity to share their mask preferences. Unlike massive, cash-starved transit agencies, Uber and Lyft have the tech and resources to ensure workers and passengers are at ease. Masking differences could lead to awkward social negotiations at best. At worst, dramatic conflict. Both Uber and Lyft could be proactive to make the experience as seamless as possible.
Listen, things are gonna get weird as we adjust to this new mask-optional life. Many of us had finally settled into wearing masks all the time everywhere before guidance abruptly changed. And who even knows what flights will be like? The more clarity and communication opportunities ridesharing companies can provide, the better.
The speed at which security has been built up over the last 12 months has been a derivative benefit of what we’ve seen during the pandemic. Privacy, compliance and security are three legs of the same stool. What we’re seeing increasingly is that intersection continuing to happen. RingCentral has invested in all those elements.
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A decade ago, fun at work meant ping pong and foosball. Now, it’s video games.
The platform Luna Park, for example, offers hour-long game shows for work teams of up to 200 people. Protocol’s Lizzy Lawrence sat in on a session, where a large kitten “floated by and squished its face on the rocketship screen.” The goal is to get co-workers bonding in a way that doesn’t feel as forced as virtual happy hours or 1:1 chats. Who wouldn’t want to play with giant virtual kittens?
At RingCentral, we’re focused on making hybrid work simpler for organizations so they can best set up, run and manage their business. We’re asking ourselves what's the benefit that we can derive, or that we can enable, that is better than the best-in-class in the industry?
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