Lyft's Thanksgiving travel push receives backlash amid worsening pandemic

Lyft is enticing people to get on the road for Thanksgiving. This image shows passengers connecting with drivers at the Rideshare Lot in LAX Airport in Los Angeles, CA, on August 20, 2020.

As coronavirus cases continue to rise across the United States, Lyft is enticing people to get on the road for Thanksgiving — a message that doesn't jibe with the recommendations from many local health and government officials.

Lyft, while best known for its ride-hail services, also has a rental car offering in some markets and it's trying to leverage the upcoming holiday as a marketing opportunity. Through push notifications shared by some customers on social media Wednesday, the company sent the message: "Last-minute Thanksgiving plans? Rent a car and make them happen." Emails received by some customers contained similar messaging.

Unsurprisingly, some recipients didn't take too kindly to the call-to-action given the latest surge in the pandemic. "No, @lyft. Read the news," tweeted one person. Another tweeted that the push 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."

"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," a Lyft spokesperson said in a statement to CNN Business when asked about the effort.

The company said the campaign has been paused.

While Lyft's car rental page indicates that safety is a top priority and that "protocols and thorough cleaning processes have been implemented," the marketing push comes as the United States recently surpassed 11 million Covid-19 cases. On Tuesday, the country had its highest daily death toll in the past six months and places like New York City and a number of counties in California are facing new restrictions.

An emergency physician said Saturday that he is "terrified" about this holiday season, predicting "an unprecedented surge of cases following Thanksgiving this year." Experts say those who plan to visit family should quarantine for 14 days first.

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