Despite food delivery being one of the services exempted from the lockdown, reports are coming in from across India of kitchens being forced shut, delivery executives being roughed up and colonies denying them entry into residential complexes. Finally on Wednesday, state governments and local police took note. Food delivery outlets and online players spent the day applying for movement passes for their staff and delivery personnel.
Many people in Delhi heaved a sigh of relief because they rely on food delivery for their meals. Arushi Menon, 24, a communications professional living in south Delhi’s Alaknanda, had no stash of groceries at home and was worried when her food provider messaged her that police were not allowing deliveries. “Delivery services are hampered by staff problems or claim they are being stopped by police. Directions on how people like us can cope with the lockdown will be helpful,” Menon said.
Ankit Thukral, an IT professional who moved recently to the city, with his long work hours, does not have the luxury of organising a kitchen at home or hiring a cook. Not fully clear about how long he would be in the capital, he only kept the minimum of provisions at home, managing mostly on food ordered in. “Many of us do not even have gas connections or water filters. We depend on online food and water services,” he said.
Karan Nambiar of Big City Pizzas and Captain Grub said the ban on interstate travelling was deterring his cooks from reporting to work, while Vishal Jindal of Biryani by Kilo said many of his kitchens were not being allowed to run.
A Swiggy spokesperson acknowledged the supply problems caused by the temporary closure of restaurants located in the closed malls. However, the company assured it was working with the authorities to remain operational. Similarly, the spokesperson for Zomato said, “Our delivery partners are facing hurdles in many cities while trying to deliver food, which has been classified as an essential service. We are communicating with the relevant authorities and hoping these issues are sorted soon.”
Samir Modi, founder 24Seven convenience stores, explained his commissaries were closed due to employees fearing for their personal security if they reported for work. “We are working only from 9am to 7pm because of reduced staff and supplies,” Modi said, adding that the chain has applied for permissions to get all the outlets fully operational.
Clarifications from both central and state governments eased many concerns by Wednesday evening. “There are three authorities in Delhi-NCR. One is the central government, the other, Delhi government and third, the RWAs,” sigh a food delivery operator. “While the guidelines of the two governments are now clear, the RWAs have their own laws and this is cause for confusion and panic at times like this.”
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