Lime suspends e-scooter service in 5 markets, including California, due to coronavirus

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A Lime electric scooter rider passes a cyclist on the Venice Beach Boardwalk in Venice, Calif., on July 25, 2018.

A Lime electric scooter rider passes a cyclist on the Venice Beach Boardwalk in Venice, Calif., on July 25, 2018. (Gabriel S. Scarlett/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

Lime, the shareable bike and e-scooter company, announced Tuesday it is suspending service effective immediately in five of its markets that are most heavily impacted by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, including California, where its heaviest presence in the Bay Area.

Lime says it will be “pausing” its service in California and Washington state, as well as Italy, France and Spain. No end date was given, but the company in a news release said it will provide updates on the situation “in the coming weeks.”

“The COVID-19 virus is an unprecedented challenge facing cities and communities around the world,” the company said in a news release. “Like you, we are worried about the cities we love and call home, the people we serve, and our colleagues on the ground. Loving cities means protecting them too. For now, we’re pausing Lime service to help people stay put and stay safe.”

Lime says that in the markets where it is still operating, the company has enhanced and increased the frequency of cleaning and disinfecting its scooters.

Bay Area residents who were hoping to count a Lime scooter as their St. Patrick’s Day green will be out of luck, but the coronavirus pandemic has already put a serious damper on holiday festivities anyway. The announcement by San Francisco-headquartered Lime comes one day after seven Bay Area counties, including San Francisco, were placed under mandatory shelter-in-place orders, meaning about 7 million residents in those jurisdictions may only leave home for essential purposes.

The order, in place through at least April 7, has effectively shut down public life in the Bay Area with the exception of grocery stores, restaurants providing takeout service and a few other businesses outside the health and public safety sectors deemed essential, such as gas stations and banks.

Earlier this year, Lime pulled its scooters from San Diego and 11 other markets, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported in January.

Uber on Tuesday announced it is halting on its “Pool” ride service in the U.S. and Canada, but had not announced any changes with regard to Jump bikes or scooters.

Sacramento Bee reporter Theresa Clift contributed to this report.

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