My Uber Driver Mask Incident

Filed Under: Uber

Well, yesterday I encountered my first Uber mask “situation.”

Uber requires everyone to wear masks

Uber has a policy requiring all drivers and passengers to wear masks, with few exceptions.

I haven’t had much firsthand experience with this up until now. For the first six months of the pandemic I used a ridesharing app twice — just to get to & from the airport for my one international trip. Both rides were uneventful.

However, since arriving in Germany I’ve been using Uber a bit more to get around, and my experiences up until this weekend were good — drivers not only wore masks, but there was a plastic shield between the front row and the back row. Between that and opening windows, it feels safe enough.

And then I had my ride yesterday.

My Uber driver was angry about wearing a mask

Yesterday afternoon Ford and I got in an Uber in Berlin. It was pouring rain, so wasn’t possible to open the windows, and this was also the first Uber I had been in since arriving in Germany where there wasn’t a plastic shield between the first and second row (I’m not sure if that’s a policy one way or another, or just something drivers do).

I sat immediately behind the driver, while Ford sat next to me. As we got in the Uber I saw that the driver put his mask on… and then 10 seconds after we got in he took it off. I couldn’t see it directly, but rather Ford was texting me about it.

About a minute into the ride the guy said (in German) “is everything okay?”

Ford politely said “could you please put on your mask?”

He huffed and responded “why, you think I have corona?”

At that point I explained to him that we don’t know who has coronavirus, and that it’s about taking precautions, and that Uber requires drivers and passengers to wear masks.

While he then put on the mask:

  • He spent 30 seconds ranting about masks and how they’re uncomfortable to wear, and how he can’t believe we think that he has coronavirus
  • He started driving much more aggressively, accelerating fast, going fast around corners, etc.

Given the instant Uber feedback loop, I’m a bit confused about why he was so argumentative about it. If he had just put on the mask I probably wouldn’t have reported him or given a bad review. But because he was so rude about it, I ended up giving him one star and reporting him for not wearing the mask.

For what it’s worth, he was the lowest rated Uber driver we’ve had in quite a while (4.6 stars), so I guess that doesn’t come as much of a surprise.

Bottom line

Apparently asking someone to wear a mask in line with a company’s policy is now the same as accusing them of having coronavirus. To be clear, to me this isn’t about whether you’re pro-mask or anti-mask.

It’s quite simple — Uber promises that drivers will wear masks, with limited exceptions. He put on the mask when we got in the car to indicate he was wearing a mask, but then took it off seconds later. And then he tried to argue back when confronted about it, and I’m not sure what exactly he was trying to accomplish with that…

If you’ve used a ridesharing app during the pandemic, did you have any mask incidents? How did they go?

  1. Nobody likes a rat. The genie’s out of the bottle and it’s not going back in. Swedes got it right. Sooner everyone else realizes this, the better.

  2. I and my family have essentially frozen all non essential activity due to covid concerns.
    While I expect everybody to wear masks, masks may not be the total answer.
    The plastic shield might not be total, air circulates under the seats and through any opening. i am especially upset by those cars running a circular hose from the AC vent to the rear, where do they think the air originates; the intakes are near the drivers feet.

  3. Berlin is the epicenter of Germany’s anti masking protests. The US isn’t the only country in conflict over this. Maybe watch more Tagesschau.

  4. I know you’re a super nice guy but you should try avoiding low-rated drivers. 🙂

    Simply cancel and request again, my minimum acceptable rating for a driver is 4.8.

  5. Very funny that you are travelling the world during a pandemic, ofcourse completely unnecessary and probably using a double passport to evade the rules, and then have the audacity to report a driver abroad because he doesn’t comply with this directive from a company in the shithole country you call the USA.

    These rules are for Berlin:
    Ҥ 4 Mouth and Nose Covering (Community Mask)
    (1) A covering for the mouth and nose (community mask) must be worn:
    by passengers and non-driving staff when using public transport, including stations, airports and ferry terminals, and other vehicles with changing passengers,”

    So the driver doesn’t have to wear a mask. This post is a total joke, and btw, snitches get stiches.

  6. I’m all for everyone wearing a mask at all times, especially when required by your profession like Uber. But I’m not going to openly ask someone to please put their mask on. That situation could go in so many different directions and people’s opinions vary widely on wearing it vs not. I don’t need that potential situation because you never know what that could turn into. If you don’t feel comfortable, remove yourself from the situation.

  7. Ben, why are you so rude towards those who do not wear masks? They make no difference, only can make things worse. If you want to be safe, then get yourself a FFP3 mask, but do not force others to wear it. The end of mandatory mask policies on intra-EU flights is near, as most of travellers oppose it – there are heavy internal discussions going on. A week-long stay in Scandinavia, Switzerland or Netherlands should cure you from this mask obsession. There are many more effective hygiene measures that can be implemented – social distancing, refusal of service to symptomatic people, limiting the capacity of facilities, etc…

  8. I think a lot of it is people don’t like to be told what to do, either by governance or science. So they like to be anti-establishment, for reasons unknown.

  9. @ Alonzo — Fair, but he specifically asked if everything is okay, and I think it’s only fair to give someone a chance to fix a situation, rather than just reporting them behind their back. After all, I recognize their ability to make a living relies on them having a decent rating and not being reported too many times for not wearing a mask.

  10. @ EY — Fair, but I’m still getting used to the Uber situation here, and in general I’m noticing that drivers have lower average ratings than in the US. Most drivers seem to be in the 4.6-4.8 range. This guy was right at 4.6, so he was the lowest rated driver I’ve had, but not by that much.

  11. @Ben I quoted these rules from an ordinance. In Europe laws and ordinances go above the rules corporates try to dictate and companies can not force stuff like this when there is no legal basis.


  12. @Johan – The science has been pretty clear that layering many decent measures on top of each other works tremendously well. It might be you wearing a mask decreasing transmission by half, then maybe the plastic shield is another half, then maybe the other person wearing a mask halves that rate again, then social distancing might be another half, just as examples off the top of my head. In this thought experiment we’re down to 1/16th the transmission layering 4 things that half work on top of each other, but we could go further with increasing cleaning and other measures.

    We each need to do our part to help others in our community stay safe as long as there is virus spreading and we don’t have the vaccine widely available yet.

  13. You really should be reporting this to Uber and/or the local authorities and not just to your website/YouTube/Twitter feeds. Like Will said, we have to keep our community safe.

  14. I hope Uber fires him and he loses his (likely) only source of income for doing this to you.
    It’s the only way these people will learn.

  15. Lucky,

    I recommend that you down land and (at least try) Using FreeNow (formerly MyTaxi) when in Germany, very professional and still cashless easy app payment with clean, comfortable sedan class cars.
    When you account for Uber surging a taxi is much cheaper, and the drivers are never looking at Satnavs, as a more nervous car passenger I usually feel much better with professional and fully licensed taxi drivers.

    Most of the cream-yellow coloured Mercedes Taxis you see everywhere around Berlin are signed up as part of it, and it also has a cheaper Uber type option.

  16. @ Wim. In the U.S, McDonald’s workers have freedom of speech. So if they want to, they can tell each and every customer to go to hell and they won’t go to jail.

  17. Did he apologize at the end of the trip?
    He did put you guys in danger, after all. (not just the mask but the driving style you mention)

  18. @Rob If the McDonalds worker is white, straight and preferably male. Don’t forget to add the most important part of how the US works.

  19. @Wim

    You have no idea what you are talking about and how different legal layers work. There is no EU regulation saying “Taxi drivers MUST NOT wear masks”. Neither is there any such german law or regulation. Of course Uber has the right to have a mask policy for their drivers, similar to any other company policies, house rules etc.

  20. So many pundits here in the comments section…
    Uber’s policy is drivers need to wear a mask, and they told the guy to wear one, and if he wears it then there’s no need to report it. I mean, that’s the nicer way of doing it, otherwise you can just report it without telling the driver and he might lose his job.
    There’s a lot of asymptomatic spread, better to be careful than risk people’s health and safety.

  21. Bottom Line
    The Driver was required by his company to wear a Mask
    The Customer used that company because of this rule.
    The driver was too stupid to correct the mistake or even lie.
    As someone who has lost their job due to Covid I feel we should do our bit. Wearing a mask is simple and effective
    He is required to wear clothes when driving? What is the difference

  22. Ben, this calling out you do, similar to the airport workers in Miami airport is on one hand fine and relevant. However, there remains a hypocrisy that you continue to travel internationally during a global pandemic. This – along with the many replies that are increasingly political and divisive have taken the joy out of your site. I looked forward to reading your posts daily. Sadly, no more. All the best for the future but for now, goodbye.

  23. What hypocrisy? He is complying with all laws and regulations, he simply has access to more passports. You can argue it’s not fair, but different passports entitle people to different visa access rules to begin with, and I don’t see Americans crying about it before.

    As far as I can tell, Ben has taken better precaution than 99.9% of the travelling public.

  24. @ Matt — I appreciate the feedback, and I’m sorry to hear how you feel (because I recognize that you’re not a troll). To be clear, I’m in Berlin (in one place) for at least a couple of months, doing very little travel. My mom is here as well, for reasons I covered in a previous post.

    You’re right I did take one international trip, but ultimately it’s one I felt comfortable with. I’m taking the approach of living my life as much as possible while taking reasonable precautions — wearing masks, avoiding indoor spaces as much as possible, limiting human contact, etc. I’m obviously not perfect, and I recognize optics won’t always be great either.

    And maybe I do harp on masks too much. There’s two reasons for that, though:
    a) As travel brands adapt to a new normal, there’s a serious disconnect between what they promise with safety and what they actually deliver, and I think it’s worth calling them out for that, especially as consumers make decisions based on these promises
    b) In my opinion wearing masks is such an easy thing we can do (relatively speaking) to slow the spread of coronavirus while going about our business

    Not everyone will agree with me, and I respect that. But I at least want to explain where I’m coming from. I get it’s a political and divisive time, and I’m certainly not happy about that either. I hope that gets better soon.

  25. I live in Germany; I am somehow amazed how case numbers are so low here given that so little precautions are taken by some (not all) people, and how many don’t seem to care. Nearly every time I go to the supermarket, there is someone not wearing a mask, same on regional trains… Last week when I went to the doctor, he wasn’t wearing a mask and he didn’t seem to disinfect his hands between patients (it was the urgencies where many patients are handled at once).

    I find it quite sad because many southern European countries are taking more precautions (the citizens) and their cases have been on the rise for months now again, while in Germany everything remains under control (maybe better tracking/faster testing?)

  26. Ben, More importantly I personally admire you going to be with your mom. Good for you and I can think of no better reason to travel during a pandemic. Giving comfort and love to your mom is certainly a very high priority.

    Lastly, harp on what you want to harp about. This is your blog, its not a popularity contest. Appreciate you sharing with us.

  27. @manu: so you find it sad that COVID-19 cases are lower where you live because precautions believed to slow the spread of the virus, which doesn’t seem to be spreading as much where you are compared to other areas, aren’t being widely embraced as part of an effort to curtail a virus that is seemingly being curtailed, unlike places where such efforts are being embraced even as the virus continues to spread at a higher rate?

  28. @manu
    It’s because regular Germans are not sick at all and therefore can’t infect anyone even without masks.
    Countries such as Estonia have been doing well without mandatory masks for months.
    Most cases reported in Germany during the last weeks were either immigrants coming back from family visits in Kosovo and Turkey or Arab/Turkish weddings with hundreds of guests. But regular Germans are not the main source of infection.

    @James Saunders
    Careful, laws in Germany are different!
    Uber drivers in Berlin are not directly employed by Uber. If Uber had the legal authorization to issue mask instructions to its German drivers it would automatically make the drivers employees.
    And of course Uber does not want that as they would have to pay lots of taxes,social security contributions, guaranteed minimum wage, …

  29. This is why now I went from delivering people to delivering food. Personally I hate the mask as well. But in my opinion its always best to be safe than sorry and in California its the law. I have to wear a mask when I pickup a food order and when I drop it off maybe 5-15 minutes total. Not a big price to pay too be safe and protect others. There is no one there to bitch at me to wear one when driving and I keep my A/C on constantly and rarely lower my windows so the chance of contracting COVID with just me in my car are slim to none. For the time being in the United States we have an idiot for a President and there are his followers who like him are in denial and are bigger idiots. Uber has been extremely aggressive for those who work on the platform to follow the mask rule if they were to find out this driver would be done no second chances . There is NO excuse for this driver to take the mask off and if he got deactivated its on him. Everyone is terrified and worried about catching COVID so to those who work with the public and are around people follow the fucking rules and you wont have a problem. If you do not like it find another job. That’s it.

  30. This is why now I went from delivering people to delivering food. Personally I hate the mask as well. But in my opinion its always best to be safe than sorry and in California its the law. I have to wear a mask when I pickup a food order and when I drop it off maybe 5-15 minutes total. Not a big price to pay too be safe and protect others. There is no one there to b***h at me to wear one when driving and I keep my A/C on constantly and rarely lower my windows so the chance of contracting COVID with just me in my car are slim to none. For the time being in the United States we have an idiot for a President and there are his followers who like him are in denial and are bigger idiots. Uber has been extremely aggressive for those who work on the platform to follow the mask rule if they were to find out this driver would be done no second chances . There is NO excuse for this driver to take the mask off and if he got deactivated its on him. Everyone is terrified and worried about catching COVID so to those who work with the public and are around people follow the f*****g rules and you wont have a problem. If you do not like it find another job. That’s it.

  31. Europe is not a mask-obsessed US blue state. Don’t take your politicised mask obsession to this side of the Atlantic, where governments acknowledge that masks don’t work. We already got your critical race theory over here, and that’s more than enough American nonsense.

  32. @Matt I totally agree with you. This constant complaining and calling out that’s going on is tiresome and boring.

    The hypocrisy of hopping on an international flight, something some of us aren’t even able to do due to lockdowns, and then whining incessantly about every little thing that he doesn’t like is rubbish.

    Of course, no doubt he’ll call me a “troll”. Frankly, I’m just over it. I’m over the American “call out culture”. I want to read reviews of hotels, reviews of airlines. News about how airlines are handling Covid. I want to read about how miles programs are making adjustments.

    Rather than “some guy in Berlin refused to put on a mask and my partner was too passive aggressive to just say something to me so texted me about it”. It’s like high school. It’s petty.

    @Ben, the more you post this sort of detritus, the less I will click on the link to go to your webpage and the less traffic you will get. So it’s your choice. You can either lift your game, or you can continue your drivel and demise through going woke and going broke.

  33. Worthwhile travel post @Ben. (trying to figure out how @Ford was allowed into EU/DU w US passport? Tested on arrival?) Thanks for the update/

  34. If this German driver doesn’t like Uber’s policy, he’s obviously free to quit and move onto another job.

    Last time I check, places like Taiwan, HK, South Korea, where people take this very serious and wears masks with very high compliance rate, have a much lower incidence of infection than say US or Europe. Coincidence? Or maybe wearing masks do help with slowing or eliminating transmission… Numbers don’t lie. However, Covidiots do.

  35. @Ben, I agree with Matt about what the comments section has turned into. It has increasingly and rapidly deteriorated. Forget the political ones at this point, the comments are now so vile, aggressive, violent, and just pure vitriol. Like the comment here insinuating that you should get jumped for snitching or the comments in that one post a while back saying horrible things about your mom. Having to scroll through that is so unpleasant and demoralizing. Perhaps you should consider doing what TPG did and remove commenting from articles altogether. It’s happening on other sites as well.

  36. Can you stop posting about masks and anything remotely political? I realize you’re probably stretched thin for content, but it’s ruining your site. People arguing over masks and compliance differences is a fact of life at this point. We don’t need a whole article every time you see someone without a mask.

  37. Also found this post very disappointing. You really do come off as just another strain of the ugly American. Companies are not responsible for your health – you are. You won’t melt if you ask the driver to stop and let you off onto a sidewalk in the rain. It is your health and health of your family. If you truly believe your health is at risk, an email to uber is a rather sad response. People know the rules. And some will break them or vocally object while grudgingly complying. Taking a blog to complain about humans being unpredictable and occasionally reckless is just juvenile. Ps, learn to ride a bike.

  38. Why do you think people in hospitals where masks? If you aren’t an infectious disease expert please don’t give an opinion on face masks and infectious disease. If you aren’t familiar with the above words, please wear a mask. Know that it protects you and others from respiratory diseases.

  39. Why don’t you simply buy an FFP2 respirator and then you don’t have to worry about other people wearing masks? Respirators are easily available throughout Europe and they would easily solve your problem, without having to pick up fights everywhere you go. Your health is your responsibility.

    I don’t understand the comment about his driving style after the incident. You were the one who insisted on him using a mask that obviously made him feel unwell, it’s natural that he was trying to get out of that situation as soon as possible. I’m sorry but this is yet another case of American being unable to respect local laws and customs when visiting a different country. Drivers are not required to have masks in Germany and Uber can’t force them otherwise, unless they make them their employees (which they don’t).

    As Manu (inadvertently) pointed out above, countries with strictest masking rules and compliance in Europe are the ones with the worst Covid performance these days. It’s time we gave up on our fate in magical piece of cloth and went back to what actually works: Physical distancing, avoiding high-risk situations and practising good hygiene. Taking part in risky activities and pretending it’s ok “because everyone wears masks” is the worst.

  40. @Richard, don’t let the door hit you on the way out. I’m sure OMAAT is doing just fine. There’s plenty of us who are clicking on these posts and who want to read about something besides hotel reviews. Your clicks aren’t that special.

    I also marvel at how “politicized” masks have become. They’re a reasonable precaution, with plenty of scientific evidence showing they work. But I guess it’s unsurprising that a country that so steadfastly rejects science is going to politicize any scientific finding that inconveniences them in the least.

    @Max, your racism literally made my jaw drop. Jesus Christ.

  41. Not sure how much things have changed since 2018, but I found Uber to be unusable in Germany (except for FRA and BER). I found FREE NOW (at the time called mytaxi) to be a better ride hailing app. It also works great in Rome and BCN.

  42. Tangential but I want to 2nd Nate‘s suggestion but for a different reason. With Free Now you can select Miles & More miles for every Euro you spend:

    This is especially appreciated since we don‘t have Uber Rewards here. (At least not for accounts registered in Germany. I don‘t know how it works when you use a US account here)

  43. The Uber drivers in Berlin work for a car rental agency that contracts with Uber. I dont think it is unreasonable for Uber to contractually request that drivers deployed to their services should be required to wear masks. My experience with Uber drivers in Berlin has been excellent. Drivers all wear masks (with Ben’s single exception), drivers are polite, cars are clean, service is quick and reliable. In order to avoid this insane political divide reflected in some of these comments, wouldn’t it just be easier to maintain a mask requirement in a tight space, closed, environment? Does it really matter whether particular Uber patrons believe in the effectiveness of masks or not? I fail to understand what physical harm is done by that requirement? That said, I agree with some comments that a personal Uber experience in Berlin is really not reklevant for this site.

  44. Gotta say, I agree with Matt.

    As much as I love this blog, you’re trying to have your cake and eat it, too, Ben.

  45. I’m afraid that I agree that the comments have become too much. maybe it will get better when the election is over.

  46. Ben – I admire this new approach you seem to be taking that “not everyone will agree with me and I’m okay with that.” Can you at least acknowledge the fact that this hasn’t always been the case, and you’ve taken measures to talk down to (and silence) those that don’t agree with you (on the topic of masks and the coronavirus, at large)?

  47. Well, there are idiots, fools and clowns all over the world. If you violate the rules of the company or organization you work for, then you should be reported and then probably fired. Anyone, in this time of COVID, who doesn’t want to wear a mask, where masks are required, should just stay home and do as they please there and then there would be no conflict with others who are abiding by the rules to try to prevent getting infected. BTW, those of us who travel frequently know that mask wearing is not a big deal in many places such as Asia-Pacific. Almost everybody, including schoolchildren, in those regions have always worn masks to protect themselves from pollution and other bad smells, and to protect others when they have the flu or some other sickness.

  48. Some people here argue that posts about masks are not relevant to this website. That is in my opinion incorrect. The Coronavirus did very seriously shake the world economy, and especially the travel sector. So corona-related posts are more then welcome on this website. And masks play a role in that, from a practical and a political point of view.

    I don not care what individuals THINK about masks, but because there is proof enough that this is an airborne disease, using masks can reduce infection risks so I WANT people around me wearing masks when indoors. If an airline or a taxi-organisation or an electronic platform announces that masks will be worn, then that is for me a reason to choose for a specific provider. I then want this provider to respect this announced engagement.

    Organisations of all kind are always allowed to be MORE strict then the local government requires, but not less strict.

    I would absolutely also report Uberdrivers, shops or any other person willingly endangering clients. Uber made it even easy via the app. I fully support Ben.

    I used to be a relatively frequent traveller (by plane), but I now (re)discovered possibilities to do my business completely online and via videoconferencing, for medium distance destination I have planned to book a private cabin in a night train, and for private travels I use my own car or bicycle. So … I’m one of those people who is so careful that I at present completely exclude taxis, buses, trains, metros and planes, worldwide. Because I’m not the only one doing so, enormous changes are to be expected in the offer of airlines and airports. To “win me back”, the travel industry will have to come up with very strict hygienic rules, not the opposite.

  49. In Germany, as mentioned above, use the Free Now app for taxis… you get Miles & More Miles each time too.
    Uber there just uses a similar network of cars but charges more, and you get no miles.

  50. Reading the various comments amidst writing my own – I do think the reminder that people differ and cultures differ is true. I also think that some commenters are right that many of these comments aren’t written in the phrasing or spirit to help each other be better or expand our horizons. Those who want to espouse personal responsibility could also constructively provide some better alternatives they’ve been employing to social distance or otherwise adapt and how they’re caring for others, too, because I want to believe many also realize COVID-19 is an issue and don’t want friends and family to get seriously sick or die in general. Nor do they want their economies to suffer irreparably and fellow residents to have economic hardship and food scarcity.

    So in that spirit, a good suggestion I saw was to get a bike or use a bike share. It will be cold, sure, but isn’t bike transit a thing which most US cities lack and nice benefit of living in a city with plenty of bike routes? Or perhaps an electric scooter? I’d be interested in reading how to adapt to that mode of transit as a U.S. suburban dweller who relies on cars. Do most stores and neighborhoods have places to park bikes? Do they get stolen? Do people tend to carry extra gear with them for riding bikes? How easy to use are those famous bike lanes? Are there scenic routes you can use for visiting outdoor attractions which have plenty of room for social distancing?

    Are there car shares and how difficult would it be to become eligible for using one? Or would it still be daily rates on car rentals since you’re not a long term resident? It might be a good way to take your Mom about, too, since you get to spend more time together.

  51. @Reeder: Actually, in most of Europe, weather’s good enough for biking all year long. I live in an area with similar weather to Berlin (a bit more to the south, but not too much) and I use bikesharing all year long, except few days per year when it’s snowy. As we like to say, there’s no such thing as poor weather, only poorly dressed cyclist 🙂 Seriously, snow is the only issue and that’s fairly rare. Otherwise it’s doable in any weather, if one has appropriate clothing. I regularly ride a bike at 2 AM in January 🙂

  52. Until this year, when I haven’t even been on an airplane, I have spent a month in Berlin over the last 10 years. Berlin has a highly professional and reliable taxi service that responds quickly to what I guess now is the FreeNow app – I’ve used the MyTaxi app over the years and was amazed how quickly taxis responded. Uber has all kinds of issues, so I was very happy and grateful that Berlin has a safe and effective alternative. I highly recommend it!

  53. @Johan A week-long stay in Scandinavia, Switzerland or Netherlands should cure you from this mask obsession

    What are you talking about ? I’m living in Switzerland and I’m wearing a mask in the shop, in the public transportation, in the plane, in the restaurant when I’m not seated…
    Again fake information.

  54. I am an Uber driver in Canada. Now I don’t do Uber ride share, but I do deliver food with Uber and we are required by law to wear masks. I do my part and wear my mask everytime even as i go up to a person’s house as you never know if they’ll meet you at the door.
    I understand this is such a hot topic mask or not. I feel that if in Germany it’s not law to wear a mask, then the Uber drivers moving forward should have signs on their cars and some drivers might not wear masks and that Uber should have note of that in the app to make passengers aware of it. This way moving forward it shouldn’t be an issue. But I do my part and wear my mask to protect me, my family and YOU. And I look at it this way, if we care about each other than be the bigger person and do your part.

  55. Still crying about masks? Thankful to live in Orange County, CA. I’ve been living very regular life for months now and enjoying domestic travel.

    Sure – mask up to be seated for dining, but otherwise nada. Plentiful parking at beautiful beaches in Newport, Laguna and Dana point.

    My strategy has been to focus on enjoying my life and block our all the noise (political, virus, etc). Life is good and 2020 has been a tremendous year of personal and professional growth.

    *waits for everyone in the comments w/ victim mindset to attack*

  56. Berlin cab drivers are notorious in this regard. It´s your own fault for going to Berlin in the first place.

  57. Hoping the anti-mask notion in the USA continues. It will eventually get rid of the deplorable. The less trumpers the better for the rest of the world.

  58. Good you rated him appropriately and filled out feedback but it does show what a mockery the Uber rating system is that 4.6 is considered a low rating. 3 should be average and 5 excellent, the way they run it where ‘everyone’s a winner’ is just stupid.

  59. I drive for Uber in the States, the plastic divider is not required bust masks are. I had a group of 4 banging on my car and threatening my life after I told them I would not give them a ride for not wearing masks.

  60. Not sure if you can travel to Sweden, but if you can – don’t. Not if you are expecting mask usage. I think Belgium is also only requiring for mass transit usage.

    As an aside I hope you use your time over there to stay at some Hyatt Small Luxury Hotels that you might not normally stay at on normal trips and post reviews. Maybe also that Czech to Vietnam flight on Bamboo Airlines.

  61. Think I might block the Wim guy…he’s clearly not very nice and seems pretty angry.
    Wearing a mask is the only polite/acceptable thing to do….even if it’s uncomfortable…..
    It’s not just about him…it’s just as easily possible the passengers could be infected…

  62. One star? For that? One star means the experience could not possibly have been worse. One star should be reserved for experiences like you asked him to don a mask and instead he pulled over and kicked you out of the car.

  63. eh. i’ve reported two drivers for not wearing masks (the first week that uber made this a requirement), and haven’t had to ever since. the app reminds them of the requirement when they check in, and when they see me board while wearing a mask they are reminded again that masks are still a thing. it’s not like this just started last week …

  64. As a doctor and a scientist, I’m simply amazed by how many people on this blog have the audacity to opine about things for which they are unqualified. The cause and effect relationships they form are just demonstrative of their level of gross misinformation and fundamental lack of understanding of basic scientific principles. If everyone wore a mask, the risk of transmission would be dramatically reduced (notice I didn’t say eliminated). Bitte eine Maske tragen! Es ist ganz einfach.

  65. After I order an Uber I immediately check the drivers rating. If he is under 4.8 you can cancel and reorder free of charge within five minutes.

    That driver was a jerk but what if you’re not the first person that has reported him and he loses his livelihood. Something you’ve never had to worry about or never will in your life.

    I’m an uber driver and haven’t driven since the pandemic. Post pandemic I will fave a plastic shield divider and wear N95 mask and not let a passenger in my car until I see they have a mask.

    Texas is reopen anyways. The new normal is that people will still wear masks except when dining but not social distance. People will be germaphobia freaks forever.

  66. Since May, I have yet to encounter a taxi driver who actually wears a mask properly. When things first started, the Russian traffic police regularly checked that taxi drivers sanitized their cars and wore masks, but since May, the local authorities have all but stopped enforcing any of the regulations. If the driver does have a mask, it’s pulled down to his neck and he only raises it when he sees the police. The region of Russia where I live is generally filled with COVIDiots, and it’s literally business as usual here. I avoid buses and public transport because people pack them like sardines, and almost no one wears a mask. In fact, I’ve been abused multiple times for being, well, “gay”, (Russian men use that to insult people) for wearing the mask properly. I for one have a newborn, and will NOT risk her safety by not wearing a mask and gloves when out.

  67. I’m so tired of the mask thing having become a politically partisan issue with Americans. WTF??

    If it’s to continue I would like to see a breakdown of death statistics into Republican and Democrat. An imperfect measure for sure, but I’m guessing right-wing Republican nutjobs will hit the lead in that ‘poll’ at least!

    Maybe when the US death toll reaches one million in 2021 they might start thinking masks might not be such a bad thing.

  68. Personally, I am over this mask thing too. Give it up. Even removing photos of masked up people on your blog would be a major step in the right direction.

  69. Pretty good! I am quite enjoying the debate about masks. When there is not much else to talk about travel, let us at least “fight “ over masks! Gives us something to do! Keep it up.

  70. @Desperado – I agree with you.

    Berlin – what exactly did you expect?

    I have no problem if the driver wishes not to wear a mask. As a courtesy, he should have made it clear before driving…with that said, perhaps there was more? Did you demand to know that he had his mask on prior to the car arriving?…perhaps you upset a so called anti-masker! 😉 Anyway, you will run into this, and if not prepared to deal with both sides of the issue you should stay indoors. Sorry. People are human, regardless of what company policy dictates.

    I’m in a hotel at the moment (for a major chain) will not say which one, but sometimes housekeeping are not wearing masks…I have no problem with this.

    Wow, the people really love to police each other even more now and complain. I’m glad you are seeing this in your ancestral home country for obvious reasons. I was in Berlin last month and always love it there. Some wore masks, some did not…including in the hotel, metro and cars, and I had NO issue with this at all.

    Masks do not protect you from coronavirus/covid (regardless what some bought and paid for doctors say). Although it is a smart virus that knows how to not infect when you eat on the plane or at a restaurant. Amazing… Yes, the awkward things people wish to ignore.

    Expect your immune systems to continue to weaken more and more and more…and that is a scientific fact from wearing these masks.

  71. I really enjoyed this post. I even enjoyed the negative comments from the conspiracy theorists and Trump supporters.

  72. Are we really going to argue about how outsourcing works and that Ubers contract with the car rental agency will have a clause that requires them to deliver to Uber’s product standard? In this case that would include wearing a mask. They may not be a direct employee but they are delivering a product that has standards. The car agency that is their employer in this case will be the one requiring it of them.

  73. OMFG come off it. So 99.8% instead of 99.9% of people that you encounter this month will be wearing masks. The impact of that on your likely health outcome is zero. Please learn how risk works…

  74. Ben, perhaps you could post a list of your Top 10 posts by views since COVID? I’m sure that will silence those that keep asking you to stop posting about masks. I also can’t believe how people complain about the fact that you’ve travelled to Germany, imply that they are a regular reader of your blog, but clearly haven’t read or have ignored your post about that!

    It seems a select few are not intelligent enough to realise you can post what you want, are very successful at it and will base your posts on stats that you have access to and they don’t. They frequently make clear their political viewpoint which doesn’t align with yours, and seem to forget their are other news sources that the one they use and they can’t always have their way on what other people write about or their viewpoint.

    Keep up the good work, I enjoy the mix of posts across topics, and it’s good to hear stories about how things are on the ground when I have been stuck in one country since January- especially when you’re in one of my top cities in the world.

  75. Ridiculous behavior. You two should grow up or stay back home in the U.S. instead of traveling to Europe, endangering the public even more by coming in from the land of Covid.

  76. So he just started driving like a regular Berlin taxi driver when you mentioned the mask?!

    I agree with other commenters that you should be using FreeNow rather than Uber while in Germany.

  77. The bottom line is that whenever someone travels to another country, they need to be respectful of local laws and customs. I am often very critical towards my own country’s policies and I sometimes even outright rebel against them, but when I’m somewhere else, I respect that locals are the ones who set rules. It’s their home.

    Going somewhere as a tourist and demanding everyone will do stuff the American way will not get you any sympathy from locals. Either adapt to local customs or go somewhere else, where people are more like-minded to you. That’s actually my travel strategy, I pick destinations depending on how much are their rules in line with my preferences. I don’t go to a random place and then demand that everyone does adapt to my mindset.

  78. How ridiculous that driver is; the mask isn’t as uncomfortable as he claims, he just was playing stupid to the max, unfortunately you had to report it, bad for him, extra occurrences will disqualify him from driving!

  79. In Zurich Switzerland our Uber driver didn’t have on a mask. We had ours on. There was no plastic between. We try to protect ourselves.

    If the Uber rules say the driver should have on a mask, then he should have on a mask. The driver was 65ish, cranky and rude. He became obnoxious so we didn’t take him and got another ride. Absolutely poor behaviour.

  80. Be careful when asking people to wear a mask,
    Here in France last month a tram driver was killed for asking a passenger to wear a mask and dozens people were punched for asking other people to wear a mask.

  81. Who cares about Uber driver in Berlin? How is it related to Aviation? You should visit Holland or Switzerland to see people free of masks, to change perspective.

  82. @Fred

    Why would anyone take an Uber in Zurich when you can ride the trains for free? They are on the honor system in Switzerland.

  83. I’m an Uber driver and I’m sorry that you had to go through that experience Ben. It’s absolutely bullshit that people would defend this unprofessional behavour. Luckily if the driver does it too often he will have his account disabled. Even if you don’t believe what health professionals are telling the world the perception of safety for the customer is just as important. You don’t want situations like this where the customer doesn’t feel safe or feels disrespected. Some times I wonder why people don’t have common sense for good business practices when it comes to customer service. A shield isn’t required but the masks definately are. I too had to give a customer a bad review for that. I told him he would have to put on his mask and during the ride he pulled it down thinking I couldn’t see him. It’s extremely ignorant and self centered to disobey the rules during a cautious time like this. Don’t listen to those fools Ben you did the right thing and making the public aware of it is ja justifiable action. When a driver doesn’t follow the guidelines and does something stupid like this then it makes the company look like it has no control. Reputation and image is also an important business element.

  84. If you want to enforce this mask-obsession, then you are more than welcome to do it in the US. But please, do not import it to Europe, we are living happily without those muzzles. Come to Stockholm/Tallinn/Helsinki/Oslo/Copenhagen/Amsterdam/Reykjavik (you wanted to visit Iceland in June)/Minsk/Riga/Zurich, you name it, and see how well are we doing. Masks are complete BS.

  85. @ Johan — This is your second time commenting on this *very* post about how masks are BS. And you’re calling others obsessed?

  86. Thank you, thank you for this post. The discussion shows what happens in people mind. You cannot change someone’s opinion on the matter. I would politely ask them to wear a mask but avoid an open confrontation. Companies like Uber do their best to protect their drivers and riders by issuing those policies, but how would they know who doesn’t follow the rules if we don’t tell them? So we should.

  87. But you and your Ford had masks on, right?
    So you were safe regardless of who else did or did not have a mask on, right?

  88. It may not be intended – but you guys judge people with their ratings looks so Black Mirror to me
    That being said I am with the maskenpflicht full and ganz.

  89. @Johan This isn’t a debate about the proven effectiveness of wearing masks in public, if there are rules in place you must follow them for the good of all around you. you may need to see someone and talk to them about your mental health issues. Your responses demonstrate classic narcissistic behavior, so this is just you being yourself – selfish.

  90. I have a friend who never wears a mask. And he doesn’t have COVID. Therefore I am 100% convinced that masks don’t work.

    Anyway, how dare the experts with their PHDs and decades of experience working in epidemiology lecture me about wearing masks. I have read some memes and heard some conspiracy theories and I am 100% confident that I know more on the subject than them.

  91. @Steve – Except there is no such rule, drivers are exempted from the mask requirement in Berlin, precisely because it can make them unwell, which is dangerous when you’re driving a vehicle.

  92. Should have just told him.. “No, but if I have it, your mask might save you”.

    Then see his mask come back on 🙂

  93. It’s up to the individual choice to wear a mask, and also individual choice to avoid those who choose not to wear a mask.

    The driver was wearing a mask but chose to take it off halfway.

    Either wear it or take it off proudly, no need to wear it to get the passenger on board, and then take it off.

    Anyway, people’s opinions don’t matter. The virus infects and also at a low percentage, kills those who are not protected or who get in too close proximity with the those who are asymptomatic carriers.

    Those who choose not to wear their masks can get infected and simply die (join the hundred of thousands in the ground), while those who want to take precaution and value their lives, just avoid the crowd and those who are not wearing the recommended protective gears.

    It’s great that nations that have issues with masks (parts of United States etc) have such high infection rates and death.

    With more death and infection of those who don’t care about protective gear, the world will simply have less of them around.

    Simple fact that will make the world safer for the rest that are mindful of the virus and protective gear.

    Comments of those who are so against protective gears, if they don’t wish to wear protective gears, prepare to join the rest of the infected numbers, and if their bank accounts and health system can’t take care of them, join the death statistics too. Awesome.

    Pretty sure the governments also wish for those who don’t value their lives or believe that the virus is harmless etc, gets removed from the country/planet, as too much people consuming limited resources can’t go on forever.

    Perfect chance for people to willingly fall sick and remove themselves from the planet.

  94. It’s also hilarious for people to believe the reported numbers sometimes.

    If nobody gets tested, no cases are reported, and a city is therefore free of Covid 19…

    Likely effort on the authorities to help more people leave this planet and pass away, as why bother testing those who cannot even afford to pay for the test, let alone medical treatments?

    There’s only so much a system can do to support freeloaders. It’s an excellent time to remove the freeloaders, thus those who don’t like to wear masks should definitely continue doing so as in the long run, it’s beneficial for society and the rest who remain around after Covid19…

  95. @Jim

    “But you and your Ford had masks on, right?
    So you were safe regardless of who else did or did not have a mask on, right?”

    No Jim. Masks are being recommend primarily to stop people unknowingly spreading the virus – they are not deemed to be as effective at stopping you from getting the virus. “I wear a mask to protect you, you wear a mask to protect me etc.”

    I am pro mask but my biggest concern is that there are many people like Jim who think wearing a mask means they are fully protected from contracting covid and that is 100% incorrect.

  96. @Larry Miller

    “I really wish that I had been your uber driver. You wouldnt have gotten iut of thw car with the same amount of teeth that you got in it with.”

    I really hope you are nobody’s uber driver.

  97. Good one IDon’tBelieveInScience,

    That’s the ‘logic’ of some commenters here. Very transparent – and not persuasive at all.

  98. Yes Wim,

    Thanks for confirming the mask is required under the Berlin regulation:
    “and other vehicles with changing passengers”

    Passengers change in this Uber vehicle so you confirmed a mask is required.

  99. Ben – Some of these comments are out of control with their hate, vitriol, false equivalencies and science deniers. I honestly don’t see what good this does. It’s your blog, you are allowed to write whatever you damn please. If I had a German passport and a parent overseas who just recovered from cancer, I’d be there too. I honestly think it is time to do what some other blogs have done and block certain users who cannot seem to express their opinions without handing out equal teaspoons of hate, racism, sexism, heterosexism, among many other things. I love this blog and more often than not agree with you. If I don’t agree with you, I have enough respect for you to not slam you. People call me a snowflake….great! That means I actually want care about other people and do what is asked of a community to do. Sending you and Ford lots of good wishes!

  100. Why bother with any of these obscure ride-hailing firms. There is not a single European metropolis which does not have an excellent, environmentally friendly public transportation system (a ride-hailing firm is neither environmentally friendly nor can it be considered belonging to a “public transportation system” in the sense of its original term). No matter if Lisboa, Athens, Stockholm, Rome or Beograd – tram, subway or bus are always readily available. Even during times of COVID it should be paramount to behave in an environmentally friendly way.
    However, if you are scared about COVID, do not travel at all! Simple as that.

  101. @Brandon – “It’s great that nations that have issues with masks (parts of United States etc) have such high infection rates and death.” Except this is not the case in Europe. Maskless EU states are among ones with the best Covid perfomance these days, which proves that masks, even if somewhat effective, are not the key meassure and don’t make too much difference. At the same time, states with extreme masking mandates (Spain and France) are first and third respectively in number of new cases per capita.

    Arguing with theoretical lab experiments was fine in April when we had very little real-life experience. But half a year into the pandemic, we should to look at which meassures worked in real life and which didn’t. Masks are the latter.

  102. ” As travel brands adapt to a new normal, there’s a serious disconnect between what they promise with safety and what they actually deliver, and I think it’s worth calling them out for that, especially as consumers make decisions based on these promises” — Ben

    THIS is why I like these posts and will continue to click on them.

  103. Surprised that this would happen in a strongly rule based culture (that being said I have never understood why the generally organized country is so terrible at forming queues. I have had people cut me in line there than any other western country LOL). Personally, even with windows closed, I would be comfortable as long as I was wearing the mask. However, rules are rules and if you felt uncomfortable you had every right to ask that he put on a mask. Upon request he should have politely complied without argument.

  104. @Samo Lucky did not state this in the article. If this is the case, if the driver was against wearing a mask, Lucky would still be in the right to request another driver or to be dropped off at the nearest possible spot with the fare adjusted accordingly. I find it strange the driver did not tell Lucky that regulations in Berlin exempted drivers from the general Uber rule that a mask should be worn. Lucky speaks fluent German so it was not an issue of a language barrier. Other drivers in Berlin seem to willingly wear a mask without a request needing to be made. Even if Lucky was unaware of an exemption for Berlin he had every right and should have reported the driver for rudeness. Above and beyond rules, the pandemic should cause us to treat each other civily and be respectful of people who make reasonable requests even if you or I would not feel the need to do so in the same situation

  105. @Ben thank you for posting this. Uber definitely does not enforce its safety precautions, unless maybe you are a premium member. I posted something on Reddit about this and the comments stated things like maybe get a car, or don’t go out. When paying for a service, you expect to receive what they promise- whether or not the driver agrees with it or not. As passengers, we paid our fare and covered our faces fully. Yet our driver had an issue abiding by his agreement as well. If the solution were as simple as buying a car, we wouldn’t be using uber at all.

    I’ll be looking for better alternatives. Stay safe.

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