Grab Philippines has added new features to its app to ensure the enforcement of “higher safety and hygiene standards” across its fleet when lockdown measures are eased.

In a virtual press briefing on Thursday, Grab launched “GrabProtect” as it anticipates returning to regular operations in Metro Manila in case the government decides to allow public transportation under the more relaxed community quarantine.

It said the new features are part of GrabProtect, which covers all its measures against the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

“By the end of June, the Grab app will prompt passengers, drivers, and delivery-partners to complete the online health and hygiene checklist, confirming they do not exhibit any COVID-19 symptoms and have adopted the necessary safety and hygiene measures before they make a booking or start driving,” Grab said in a statement.

It said both drivers and passengers are “strongly encouraged to submit feedback through Grab’s in-app Help Centre should either party appear unwell.”

“Individuals who have received more than one report about exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms will be advised to see a doctor and will have their Grab accounts temporarily put on hold until they receive medical clearance,” it added.

Grab delivery-partners, drivers and passengers are required to wear a face mask.

“Both drivers and passengers can cancel the booking without penalty before the ride commences, by selecting ‘driver/passenger did not wear a mask’ as their cancellation reason, should either party show up without a mask on,” Grab said, adding that it will investigate accounts that have received such feedback multiple times.

Grab’s app now has a “mask-selfie verification feature” to help users verify that drivers and delivery partners are wearing a mask.

The company said it is working on the assumption that the government will allow transport network vehicle services once Metro Manila shifts into the general community quarantine.

“That is going to be June 1, but again, the government can still make changes at the last minute,” Grab Public Relations Manager Arvi P. Lopez said in a phone message.

Grab also requires a “safety and hygiene training” for all its drivers who wish to ply the roads. They will be provided with partially subsidized hygiene kits.

Deep disinfection of vehicles every other day is also required.

“This will be done in partnership with select sanitation hubs who have deep-disinfection capability. Once cleaned, driver-partners are required to allow for the chemicals to dissipate prior to boarding any passenger. This layer of sanitation will ensure that all vehicles are safe and hygienic for public use,” Grab said.

In a statement, Grab Philippines President Brian P. Cu said: “Safety has always been at the core of what we do at Grab and while we understand that the public health situation remains to be fluid and ever-changing, we will continue to introduce innovations and policies that would protect and support the lives and livelihoods of every Filipino.” — Arjay L. Balinbin