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Waymo Suspends All Operations in Arizona Due to COVID-19

Waymo is ceasing all operations in Arizona until April 7 due to the coronavirus crisis.
Waymo is ceasing all operations in Arizona until April 7 due to the coronavirus crisis.
Ray Stern
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After saying earlier it would suspend some of its services, Waymo announced on Friday that it would discontinue all Arizona operations until April 7.

The temporary termination of services by the self-driving car company, owned by Google-affiliate Alphabet, was revealed by CNBC, which published excerpts of internal documents it obtained, and other news outlets:

"In the face of the dynamic and challenging COVID-10 pandemic and out of an abundance of caution around the ability to operate with the safety and health of all team members, Waymo has decided to pause all driving operations in both Phoenix and Detroit,” an email to Waymo drivers stated, according to CNBC.

Asked to confirm the ceasing of operations, a Waymo spokesperson directed Phoenix New Times to a website announcement.

"As we continue to closely monitor the evolving COVID-19 situation, we’re suspending all of our Waymo One rider services in Arizona until April 7th, including our service with trained drivers and our fully driverless operations within the early rider program," the statement reads. "All driving operations in other locations also remain suspended for now, along with local delivery and truck testing.

"We’ll update our riders and partners when service is up and running again. Until then, our Rider Support team is available to answer any questions. Stay healthy, and thanks from all of us at Waymo."

Waymo, which has operated in Arizona since 2016 and has a fleet of self-driving vehicles at a Chandler facility, announced on Tuesday it was halting its taxi-like Waymo One service and switching to the use of only vehicles without backup drivers. However, Waymo has few of those. Despite relying more on fully driverless vehicles in recent months, Waymo vehicles with no one behind the wheel are still a rare sight in the Valley. Now they'll be even rarer, at least until the coronavirus scare ends.

The company also has an autonomous truck program in Arizona it has been testing.

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