With a Zomato food delivery agent from Palayam testing positive for COVID-19 on Saturday, delivery agents have become extra wary of venturing out for their daily work.
A few have stopped temporarily, while most are still continuing for the sake of daily survival. On Saturday, the city Corporation had decided to stop all home deliveries in the 12 containment zones in the capital. In the rest of the city, payment for food deliveries have to be done online, as cash on delivery has been suspended temporarily.
“Today, some customers were seen following the request to keep a basket or bag outside their doors, to drop the food packets. This could go a long way in avoiding contact, especially since there are quite a few under home quarantine, and we are always at risk. Right from the beginning, we have been careful during our work, using sanitiser and mask all the time. At the restaurants too, our temperatures are checked and hands cleaned with sanitisers before taking the package,” says Manoj, a Swiggy agent.
But, the various delivery companies have not blocked the ‘cash on delivery’ option, due to which some customers still choose the same. On Sunday, some delivery agents who got such orders had to call up the customers to make them do online payment.
One of the issues flagged by local authorities has been the crowding together of the delivery agents at various spots near major restaurants. Delivery agents say that this issue could be avoided by changing the timing of the alert given to the agents.
“When Uber first introduced food delivery here, they followed a system of notifying the delivery agents only when the food is ready at the restaurant. Now, the delivery agents get the notification as soon as the customer places the order. Since cooking each of the dishes takes time, a number of riders end up crowding around the more popular restaurants. This can be prevented only by going back to the old system,” says Reji, a Zomato delivery agent.