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Uber encourages drivers in the US to do food delivery

Mariella Moon
Associate Editor
Uber

Uber is not-so-subtly pushing its drivers towards doing food deliveries. Last week, the company started sending drivers in the US an in-app notification with instructions on how to toggle between Driver and Delivery views. As Uber Eats VP Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty said on Twitter, the coronavirus outbreak changed people's routines. Drivers' incomes are affected by shelter-in-place orders issued to limit COVID-19's impact, and deliveries are now more in demand.

The ride-hailing giant started sending out notifications to drivers -- even those who've never done an Uber Eats delivery in the past -- in over a dozen US cities experiencing an increase in demand for deliveries. It plans to send the same message to more cities in the coming weeks, though, depending on demand.

In its announcement, Uber said that it's seeing signals that people are relying on delivery services more, though it's too early to tell if the coronavirus outbreak will have an impact on food delivery, as well. So far, it has seen a significant increase in the number of restaurants looking to deliver in the US and Canada. It has also seen an uptick in food delivery requests in Seattle and San Francisco, in particular.

In response to the pandemic, Uber Eats waived delivery fees for 100,000 independent restaurants earlier this month. Uber also suspended Pool rides in the US and Canada and started offering 14 days of financial assistance to drivers infected with the coronavirus. More recently, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi asked lawmakers to include the company's drivers and delivery personnel in the coronavirus stimulus package they're currently discussing. Being included in the package would make the contractors eligible to receive unemployment insurance and a $1,200 direct deposit from the government.