After a pizza delivery boy tested positive in South Delhi, Outlook visited several food joints and found that many of them were not following the guidelines to maintain proper hygiene.
This reporter found food delivery partners crowding at several food joints instead of practising social distancing.
In the picture above, about half a dozen delivery boys have gathered, without practicing social distancing, at a restaurant in CR Park locality in South Delhi.
When Outlook sent these pictures to the app-based food delivery company Zomato, its spokesperson, said, "We are constantly training our delivery partners on safety and hygiene, in addition to providing masks to them multiple times. More than 50,000 restaurants that cover a majority of our order volume have setup hand sanitisation stations for delivery partners. We continue to ramp up our safety practices as we speak."
"Food and grocery delivery are essential services, and in spite of everybody’s best efforts, not fully risk-free. Customers should be cognisant of the risks involved, and follow careful package handling practices if they are getting anything home-delivered," the spokesperson added.
Mohit Sardana, COO, Food Delivery, Zomato, in a blog on its website, claims, "Amidst the current lockdown situation in India, ensuring delivery of safe, hygienic food to our customers is paramount for us. To ensure this, we have launched a contactless delivery. Customers can opt to allow the delivery partner to leave the package outside their home, ensuring no human-to-human interaction and hence lowering the risk of any transmission."
Food safety experts have said that this kind of crowding is unsafe as any infected person can become a source for the Coronavirus spread.
"Food inside a packet might be safe but if it is delivered with an infected hand or touch, it can spread to homes from a delivery boy. It is obvious in the picture that the delivery boys are not safely distanced," a food safety officer, not authorised to speak to media, said when he was shown the photo.
Indian food safety regulator Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) issued a detailed guideline on April 15 in which it asked all the food business operators and delivery companies to comply with it for food hygiene and safe delivery.
“Social distancing aims, through a variety of means, to minimise physical contact between individuals and thereby to reduce the possibility for new infections. A minimum distance of one meter shall be maintained between two persons at all points in a food establishment,” the FSSAI guideline directs among other things.
Experts say that the local police should enforce the social distancing norms and prosecute such violations of social distancing norms strictly under Epidemic Act as these delivery boys can become a source of the spread of infection.
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