Because of its history of dealing with virus outbreaks, including the SARS outbreak in 2003, residents of Hong Kong are acutely aware of the risks.
Gary Yau, an Uber driver in Hong Kong, stopped accepting passengers in January because he was worried about catching the coronavirus and infecting his wife and infant son. Now he picks up for or five passengers a day. He finally felt comfortable reopening his Uber app after offices reopened, while some social distancing regulations and border closures remained in effect.
Riders are starting to come back, too. In addition to the return during commute hours, Uber has seen an uptick in local tourism, Ms Anderson said. “A lot more people on weekends use Uber to go out to the hiking trails and the beaches in the outskirts of Hong Kong,” she said.
But in some ways, Hong Kong has always been an anomaly for Uber. The city has efficient subway and bus systems, which have become full again in recent weeks. Its widely used taxi service, which has its own app with card payment and bilingual features, costs less than Uber. The city has also seen sustained pro-democracy protests.
Those who use Uber are often looking for a more comfortable alternative to standard taxis. Ride sharing is not legal in Hong Kong, and 28 Uber drivers were arrested in sting operations in 2017 and fined for driving without limousine permits in 2018.
Uber started a campaign calling for the legalization of ride sharing in Hong Kong after announcing in March that it intended to move its Asia Pacific headquarters there, arguing that the move would create jobs for locals as the city’s economy recovered from the pandemic.
Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/03/technology/uber-hong-kong-experience.html