Coronavirus in UAE: Home delivery services increase hygiene levels
To slow the spread of the Covid-19, food delivery platform Talabat recently rolled out contactless delivery.
By Saman Haziq
Published: Tue 24 Mar 2020, 8:00 PM
Last updated: Wed 25 Mar 2020, 10:29 AM
With people staying at home to avoid the spread of the Covid-19, demand for home delivery of food and grocery items has seen a significant increase. Following the guidelines, restaurants and online food delivery services said they are adhering to strict health and safety protocol to ensure that deliveries are handled without compromising the hygiene factor.
Contactless food delivery services
Dubai resident Zeba Khan said she was impressed with the precautionary steps she was asked to follow when she called Pizza Hut for a home delivery. "The operator gave me a set of clear instructions over the phone, telling me how to receive my food delivery package. I was told that the delivery boy would ring the bell, leave my pack by the door and stand a few feet away. We were asked to keep the exact amount ready and leave it at the doormat after picking up our pack while the delivery boy stood at a distance and watched. After we collected our order and shut the door, the rider picked up the money and left."
To slow the spread of the Covid-19, food delivery platform Talabat recently rolled out contactless delivery for anyone placing and paying for orders online.
Speaking about the newly launched initiative, Tomaso Rodriguez, Talabat CEO, said: "This initiative has been developed for rider and customer safety, and to enable this automatically, the customer will need to choose an online payment option. When the rider arrives, he will ring the doorbell and place your order at the door. Our rider will then practise social distancing, while making sure you get your order, before departing on their next delivery."
He added that in order to activate this service, customers need to first make an online payment. "At Talabat, safety is our top priority at all times, especially in this current situation. We implore you, as a customer to pay by online payment (debit, credit or Talabat credit), which means no physical cash needs to exchange hands."
In-store hygiene measures
John Morgan, brand manager at Krush brands that owns four restaurants - Freedom Pizza, Wildflower Poke & More, Salad Jar and Coco Yogo - said that since 95 per cent of their orders are home deliveries, the brand has implemented stringent measures to ensure a healthy and safe in-store environment.
"We have seen a significant uptick in the number of home deliveries. Food delivery is the one activity that is allowed, even when countries like Italy and cities like New York are on total lock down. People need to eat and according to the World Health Organisation, there is no evidence that food is a source of Covid-19 transmission. We have increased the frequency of two-staged hand sanitisation to a minimum of every 30 minutes and between every delivery for our drivers. We also have asked our drivers to maintain a 1 metre to 1.5 metre minimum distance from customers and minimise closer contact.
"We have further implemented the use of antibacterial masks for all kitchen and driver staff. We have also stepped up our vigilance with respect to employee health to ensure that anyone with flu-like symptoms are immediately required to seek a medical advice and are not allowed to return to work until they are cleared."
Zubin Doshi, founder of dessert parlour Scoopi Café, said the café not only sees to it that every order is made fresh, following utmost hygiene, with minimum hands involved but is also equipping its riders with gloves, masks and sanitisers to keep up their hygiene levels. "The desserts come in a sealed box which keeps it away from all unwanted foreign objects and the delivery drivers do not touch the product at all from the time it's made and till it reaches your doorstep."
Zahra Abdalla, founder of Zahra's Kitchen, a restaurant based on cloud kitchen concept, said that while there is no specific evidence of possible transmission through food, she is ensuring that even the packaging they use is manufactured in compliance with official guidelines and is screened before entering the country.
"At all our three branches, our employees have to get their body temperature checked twice daily, immediate mandatory sick leave is given to anyone who exhibits any flu-like or respiratory symptoms, protective N-95 masks are worn by staff; 20-minute recurring alarm intervals are given to all staff to pause work and conduct thorough hand wash procedures and after every 60 minutes there are intervals to pause operations and sanitise all surfaces."
Online food delivery company Deliveroo has also issued guidelines for its riders that includes hygiene measures, travel precautions, what to do if they think they may have symptoms and how to stay safe when they are on an order.
The company sent out a statement that read: "We have sent all our restaurant partners specific guidance on keeping safe in the kitchen, working with riders and keeping their customers safe. We have also set up a dedicated team in every market to support our riders and restaurant partners and answer any queries or questions they may have."
Majid Al Futtaim reskills, redeploys over 1,000 employees
Majid Al Futtaim has activated an employee redeployment programme across the region, which sees more than one thousand leisure, entertainment and cinema employees being reskilled to join the company's Carrefour business on a temporary basis to assist with online order fulfilment, food packing, stock replenishment and more.
The redeployment programme is designed to provide employees with an opportunity to retrain within the Majid Al Futtaim ecosystem. So far, 1,015 employees from VOX Cinemas, Magic Planet, Little Explorers and Ski Dubai in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Oman and Lebanon have been assigned to their new roles. The positions created will help Carrefour to cater to the increased demand at both its physical and online stores. In the first three weeks of March, Carrefour has seen an increase in customer demand across the region with daily online sales increasing by 50 per cent compared to the same period in February.
Alain Bejjani, CEO at Majid Al Futtaim - Holding, said: "The employee redeployment programme is a fantastic opportunity for our leisure, entertainment and cinema employees to continue to learn and explore new experiences in other parts of our business during this time. I am extremely proud of each one of them as they have shown a relentless desire to support their colleagues across the company and ensure our customers continue to have access to essential items."
The employees have been assigned to positions across the Carrefour business, including supermarkets, hypermarkets, darkstores, fulfilment centres, and distribution centres. Prior to starting their new roles, employees have completed on-the-job training as well as health and safety training, in line with additional precautions that have been put in place by Carrefour.