Coronavirus outbreak: Will food delivery be affected?

Updated: Mar 21, 2020, 07:23 IST | Shunashir Sen | Mumbai

Thanks to conflicting statements, eateries aren't sure exactly where they stand when it comes to food delivery

People crowd outside a vada pav shop at CSMT on Friday. Pic/ Suresh Karkera
People crowd outside a vada pav shop at CSMT on Friday. Pic/ Suresh Karkera

These are conflicting times for the F&B industry. On the one hand, PM Narendra Modi announced on Thursday that food delivery falls under the list of essential services, meaning it won't be affected at present. Then, on Friday, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray ordered a near-complete lockdown of the state, with only a few services being allowed to function. So, in a situation where supplies are critically low and APMC markets are largely shut, how will eateries ensure their delivery systems operate smoothly? The short answer is, no one's sure yet.

"We don't know what exactly is going to happen because no one has been given any concrete orders yet about where they stand and what exactly the rules are," said Chad Wayne, co-owner of Nomada, a restaurant in Andheri West, adding, "We have supplies stocked up for the next week, but even the vegetable and meat suppliers aren't sure about how long they will remain active. So right now, we are just trying to figure things out."

Zeeshan Nasir Shaikh, owner of House of Grills, another eatery in the same neighbourhood, is similarly clueless. "We are confused because there are so many different statements coming in. People are still ordering at night, and we are trying to keep stocks available on a weekly basis," he said.

Stocking, thus, seems to be the key at present. But even there, warns National Restaurant Association of India president Anurag Katriar, eateries need to step up their game. He said, "They need to have the right storage facilities for the different products. Restaurants should also have fewer staff members working in longer shifts, so that fewer people have to use public transport. We are one of the largest organisations in India, with 7.3 million people. If the situation remains the same for the next three or four weeks, I don't know how many eateries will survive. For us, this crisis is almost existential."

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