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Uber and Lyft Suspend Carpools; Airbnb Stops Experiences

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(Bloomberg) -- Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc. suspended their shared carpool services in the U.S. and Canada in a bid to slow the coronavirus pandemic by encouraging social distancing. Uber also said it would suspend its pooled ride features in London and Paris starting Tuesday night.

These services match different passengers headed in the same direction so they can ride together and spread the cost. Uber’s offering is called UberPool, and Lyft’s is known as Shared Rides. Encouraging strangers to get into vehicles together is likely to be frowned upon as authorities try to keep people more than six feet away from each other.

Uber and Lyft’s regular ride-hailing services and Uber’s food delivery will still be available, the companies said. Uber said Monday it would waive delivery fees for independent restaurants.

Meanwhile, Airbnb Inc. said Tuesday it would pause its Experiences service, where travelers can book tours, classes and workshops, until at least April 3. Customers who reserved sessions during that period will be refunded.

Airbnb, Lyft and Uber are all based in San Francisco. Residents in the city and surrounding counties have been ordered to “shelter in place,” a mandate that is among the strictest in the nation.

Uber said it may adjust remaining operations as needed based on official guidance. Starting Tuesday, all riders in the U.S. and Canada will see a message when they open their app reminding them to “flatten the curve” and “travel only when necessary.”

(Updates to add London and Paris suspensions in first paragraph.)

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