Many US States (and Canadian Provinces) are moving towards fully re-opening their economies, and the demand for Uber and Lyft rides has seen a drip drip drip increase in the past few weeks. In some markets onboarding of new drivers was put on hold, and many more drivers have deemed the government assistance packages more lucrative than the profits (and risk) from driving ride hail. Yes gas may be cheap, but car insurance, vehicle sanitization and personal protective equipment (PPE such as masks, gloves or whathaveyou) are an added expense in a time where demand remains way down.

In my market, Toronto, Canada, the wait times for getting a ride are slightly longer, and if you are driving, the pick-ups distances are often further away (hello, LYFT!) and remain, typically, short grocery store or other essential retail trips. But more people are visiting friends and relatives, or going to a public park or shopping. Life has returned to whatever constitutes a new normal.

For ridehail drivers, both Uber and Lyft have mandated a face covering (i.e. a cloth mask) not only for drivers, but for all passengers. While the UBER app forces the tedious check-list and woefully comical 'verification selfie' on the drivers EVERY TIME THEY GO ONLINE, it barely informs the passengers on their app before they request a ride. LYFT also has a checklist that keeps face coverings, sanitation and personal hygiene top of mind to drivers, but also, does not feel to push to hard on its paying customers.

Now, like the car-seat avoiding parents of toddlers, there is a potential argument with passengers, every time they show up for their ride, and are either completely ignorant of the policy, or are of the 'plandemic' variety and have taken a political stance against policy-power-plays by the state and local health organizations.

A potential conflict now lurks for almost 50% of the ride requests I take.

Hear ye. Hear ye! Passengers of Lyft and Uber. You will be educated at the cost of $5 per, every time you show up without a face covering. The doors are locked. I will point you to the drop-down or link in the app if you cannot find it, but you are not setting foot in my vehicle. And you will be paying $5. Every time.

"But my last driver took me without a mask." Ah yes. We have done this dance before when you had Junior in tow and no car seat. You were educated then. $5 please. Thanks. No exceptions. You can cancel yourself (and incur the $5 education fee a few minutes faster) but if you request a ride and the request comes my way, I will be accepting it, and if you are not careful. Another $5 education fee. You have been warned.

Wearing a mask is not for your safety, it is for the safety of the next person, and for the safety of the driver. I do not know where you have been and who you have been with, and what you have been doing. The app gives me a rating and a name and occasionally, if you have been diligent with uploading, a photo of your dog. It doesn't tell me if you have been at an infected longterm care facility (aka a nursing home), a hospital, or an underground speakeasy. You wear the mask for the safety of the next passenger, so your spittle and airborne mucous particles do not get all over my car seats and potentially me or the next passengers.

A disposable mask costs pennies, folds in your pocket, and takes 2 seconds to put on. Or you can wait the 5 minutes for me to arrive, another 5 minutes to shuffle you and your uncovered face, and hope the next driver (not me) is 'cool' with not following the policies dictated on the Big Two ridehail platforms.

I do not care what your political views are. I do not care what the statistics or what Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai (who has 188K subscribers on YouTube, so he must be right) says. This is the policy. The same way that the policy is that I do not run red lights, or run-over pedestrians.

But I am happy, in light of my own emotional energy and frustration with dealing with your ignorance and obstinacy, to charge you the $5 education fee for your trouble.

Stay Safe.

(And don't be that driver, 'who took the last passenger.' It makes it difficult for the rest of us. Face Covering or Car Seat.)