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Beijing vaccinates drivers, collects passenger data via health codes to curb COVID-19

Written by Song Jingli Published on     3 mins read

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It is the first time that the health code system, which is administrated by the local government, has been required by ride-hailing services.

As hundreds of residents in China, including several drivers in Beijing, have become infected with COVID-19 since the middle of December, the Beijing government has demanded that ride-hailing platforms vaccinate drivers since Tuesday, among other new norms for the sector.

The government also urged drivers to wear masks, disinfect vehicles after each trip, and ask riders to scan their Beijing Jiankangbao (health code) mini program inside WeChat or Alipay. If they fail to comply with these measures, they should not start to work, the government added.

While scanning a Beijing Jiankangbao mini program, which went online on March 1, has been a norm for residents entering shopping malls, office buildings, and restaurants, it is the first time that the health code system, which is administrated by the local government, has been applied to ride-hailing drivers.

Didi Chuxing, the largest ride-hailing platform in China, told KrASIA in written statements on Tuesday that the company has planned to vaccinate all drivers on its platform within one week from Wednesday. In China, the vaccine is provided for free by the government, while relatively high-risk people can take the shot earlier. Three taxi drivers, who also leveraged Didi to pick up ride-hailing orders, confirmed with KrASIA on Tuesday and Wednesday that they have been vaccinated thanks to the organization of their respective companies.

“In the past, Didi only dispatched ride-hailing orders to us, but recently, Didi started to notify us about the vaccine via the app,” a Didi Express driver told KrASIA on Wednesday, adding that he has submitted an electronic form but is still waiting for his vaccine appointment to be scheduled.

Didi said the company has also asked drivers to stick a specific health code printout inside cars for passengers to scan since late Monday. KrASIA found that drivers have rushed to comply with this new rule, putting copies of the health code everywhere inside the car, some of which are on the window, while others are between seats.

“I feel this could help trace the passengers once a vehicle transports a patient to curb the spread of the virus,” Sun, a ride-hailing user who was asked to scan the health code on Tuesday told KrASIA, admitting that he was first surprised at the requirement but did as required.

While three passengers contacted by KrASIA confirmed that they did scan the code, one did show concern.

Xue, another Didi user said, “I doubt whether this measure is useful or just formalism as we have already left our data on the Didi platform. I am a little worried our personal information might be misused.”

While Didi has been adjusting its operations to comply with the new rules, some other ride-hailing platforms are slow to cope.

Yangguang Chuxing, whose service is also integrated on Hello Chuxing, has not asked for passengers to scan the code, nor organized its drivers to be vaccinated, a driver told KrASIA on Wednesday. However, he added that Yangguang required them to upload proof of a negative result in a nucleic acid test taken within seven days before they can pick up any passengers.

Didi was fined RMB 1.07 million (USD 165,424) for not abiding by epidemic prevention rules, and its new platform Huaxiaozhu was fined RMB 340,000 when several drivers on these two platforms tested positive for COVID-19 in the past month.

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