Lyft criticized over Thanksgiving travel promo amid worsening pandemic

Lyft criticized over Thanksgiving travel promo amid worsening pandemic
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Ride hailing company Lyft received criticism for its Thanksgiving campaign urging people to travel amid the worsening coronavirus pandemic in the US.

While Lyft is best known for its ride hailing services, the company also has a rental car offering and to leverage on the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, it launched a marketing campaign enticing customers to travel amid the pandemic.

Untimely marketing campaign

Using push notifications, Lyft sent its customers the message: “Last-minute Thanksgiving plans? Rent a car and make them happen.” A similar message was also sent to some customers via email.

Some recipients of the message shared on social media their criticism of Lyft’s campaign amidst the worsening coronavirus pandemic. One customer tweeted: “No, @lyft. Read the news.”

Meanwhile, another tweeted that the message was “WILDLY irresponsible. Last time I checked we were in the midst of a worsening pandemic and no one should be going anywhere for Thanksgiving.”

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In response to the backlash, a Lyft spokesperson said: “We recognize that there are changing local guidelines and regulations related to Covid-19 and Thanksgiving travel, and as always, we encourage our users to follow those guidelines — we should have made that more clear in the email.”

The company said it already paused the campaign. While Lyft’s car rental page emphasized that safety is a top priority and that “protocols and thorough cleaning processes have been implemented,” the campaign was launched as the number of cases in the US surged.

Worsening pandemic in the US

Earlier this month, the US reported 99,321 new coronavirus cases.

“We’re at a point where the epidemic is accelerating across the country. We’re right at the beginning of the steep part of the epidemic curve,” Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former U.S. Food and Drug Administration commissioner, said during an interview on CNBC.

“You’ll see cases start to accelerate in the coming weeks,” he said, stressing the height of the country’s recent surge will be experienced around Thanksgiving. Gottlieb noted that “December’s probably going to be the toughest month.”

Additionally, White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said that vaccine is not enough to eradicate the coronavirus.

“I think the opposite. … I really do,” Dr. Fauci said. “The cavalry is coming but don’t put your weapons down, you better keep fighting because they are not here yet. Help is on the way, but it isn’t here yet.”

“So to me, that is more of an incentive of, ‘Please don’t give up. Don’t despair, the end is in sight,’ as opposed to: ‘Hey, we are good to go, don’t worry about anything.’ We are not good to go. We have got to continue to double down on public health measures,” he added about vaccine being not enough in terms of controlling the outbreaks.

In other news, Proposition 22 has received approval in California, allowing Uber and Lyft to continue treating their drivers as independent contractors in the state.

Uber and Lyft secured a significant win after their ballot measure, called Proposition 22, was passed in California, allowing them to maintain the status of drivers as independent contractors. However, they will still need to address the issue on a national scale.

Prop 22 is a ballot initiative funded by Uber, Lyft and DoorDash for $30 million each, with additional support from Instacart and Postmates, to reach over more than $200 million. This will give the companies an exemption from the AB-5 law but the drivers will still receive some benefits.

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