Delhi restaurants on safe food delivery during COVID-19

Restaurants across Delhi take stringent safety measures for their staff and customers
A food delivery man working during the lockdown.  (Photo | Nagaraja Gadekal, EPS)
A food delivery man working during the lockdown. (Photo | Nagaraja Gadekal, EPS)

It’s been two weeks since a pizza delivery boy in Delhi-NCR was tested positive for COVID-19, which led to 72 families he had delivered pizzas to being quarantined. Citing this incident as an example not to repeat, a few of the restaurants that provide food delivery service tell The Morning Standard how they have implemented stringent safety measures for their staff and customers.

Road to delivery

Ratnesh Verma, Founder of Pidge that delivers food from Annamaya restaurant at Andaz Delhi to Delhi-Gurugram, posits hygiene, safety and security at three levels – the rider, customer, and package. “At the rider level, we daily reiterate training and awareness of the WHO guidelines and precautions. At the customer level, we ensure contactless and cashless delivery with our dual OTP system that ensures the food is delivered without physical verification. For food packaging, we use tamper-proof bags that are sanitised at pickup and delivery.”Delivery companies and restaurants have made it mandatory for their riders to carry essential inventory – hand sanitisers, masks, thermometers and gloves – provided to them.

“We constantly check the staff’s body temperature. They continuously wear masks and gloves while handling food. They have been advised to sanitise their hands every 20 minutes, even with gloves on. We have sanitised the premises, and procure raw material only from authorised vendors,” says Nirmal Singh, GM at Friction The Drinkery, adding that the outlet uses their own delivery team to deliver within the 10 km radius of their Sector 29 address.

L’Opera has been using six of its vans for deliveries around CP, South Delhi, towards Yamuna, Vasant Vihar and Vasant Kunj and Gurugram. Kazem Samadari, founder, L’Opera, says, “Everything is prepared, boxed and taped before dispatch. Cars are deep cleaned and have sanitisers in them. We ask the driver for pictures to keep a tab on the service.”

Bharat Khandelwal, co-founder, Now Delivery, informs that they have even minimised the rider fee as they had expected a decrease in orders. “We ensure each rider practices basic sanitisation… bathing, clean clothes, masks and gloves. Of our huge team of riders, 25 have been deployed to deliver food for Homefoodi across Noida.”

The delivery boys are quite adept with the precautions concerning Covid hygiene. Manoj Thakur, a rider with L’Opera for eight years now, informs that he has been working from the base unit in Noida since April 5. “After I get up, I wash the car and sanitise it every day. Then, I put on the hand gloves, head cap and shoe covers, then load the delivery and leave. We have eight drivers for six vehicles, and delivery has been smooth because we have the necessary permissions. My wife tells me to come home, but I have two kids and can’t put them at risk.”  

Aashish Kumar, a rider for Now Delivery, says the company asks for a daily health update. “We send our temperature to the supervisor daily. If there’s any problem, they get the check-up done. When we get an order, we call the chef and they keep the food at their main gate. We take it and deliver it at the
drop location.”

Kitchen hygiene

Precautionary measures are not only practiced at the delivery level but also in the kitchens. For instance, the 45-member culinary team of Andaz Delhi follows all safety measures overseen by a hygiene manager. “The delivery team is not allowed to enter the hotel premises, and have been allotted a comfortable place just outside, where they pick up orders. Apart from this, we conduct deep cleaning of foodservice and production areas,” says Vikram Ganpule, Executive Chef, Andaz Delhi.

At its base kitchen in Noida, L’Opera has a team of 12, who live and sleep on the premises to reduce the risk of contracting virus. “We have a limited number of people and are producing a limited number of items. We ask the staff how they feel and monitor their temperature three times a day. Head covers and masks are mandatory, and they have to wash their hands every hour. The unit is cleaned with disinfectants three times a day. After production, deep cleaning is done apart from the periodic cleaning of equipment,” Samandari says.

Social distancing is also of utmost importance in the kitchen, informs Rahul Khanna, Director of Azure Hospitality that runs Dhaba and Mamagoto. “We have made six-feet distancing mandatory in our base kitchen in Okhla, and given hazmat suits, gloves and masks to the staff. We do our own delivery because we don’t want to rely on Swiggy and Zomato. The bikes are regularly sanitised, and riders are following the safety protocols. Any employee showing the slightest sign of sickness is sent to our doctor,”

Meanwhile, Homefoodi is working with 70 home chefs to deliver home-cooked meals to the residents of Noida, Greater Noida and Indrapuram. “We selected the home chefs after visiting their homes and conducting proper checks at their kitchens. Our co-founder Mona Dahiya, who is a doctor, spoke to the home chefs to make sure they are physically fine,” says Narendra Singh Dahiya, Founder and Director, Homefoodi.

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