As China continues to grapple with the deadly coronavirus outbreak, some restaurant chains are taking steps to ensure food delivery operations can continue. Yum China, which operates thousands of KFC and Pizza Hut restaurants in China, is now using what it calls contactless delivery and pickup to safely get food from restaurants to customers without further spreading the deadly virus.
Yum posted videos to Chinese social media platforms Weibo and WeChat showing a delivery driver having their temperature taken, putting on a mask, and disinfecting their hands before heading out to make the delivery. Drivers are also required to disinfect both their hands and their delivery boxes after each delivery.
The food courier drops the order at pre-appointed spot outside the customer’s building then watches from a distance of at least 10 feet while the customer retrieves their order and goes back inside:
Yum China is also testing an in-store pickup version of this contactless delivery at some locations, where pickup racks have been installed inside. For both delivery and pickup, customers ordering via can now choose a “contactless” option when they order online.
Chinese food delivery services Meituan and Ele.me are providing similar services. And it isn’t just restaurants peddling this contactless form of food delivery. Grocery stores — namely Alibaba’s Hema, JD affiliate Dada, and Meituan — are using contactless delivery for grocery orders, offering an in-app option for customers similar to that of Yum China.
CNBC reports that as of last week in Beijing, roughly 20,000 people were delivering an average of over 400,000 orders daily from Meituan and Ele.me alone, but that the “logistical challenges,” such as couriers having to wait outside instead of delivering food directly to the customer’s door, have lowered the efficiency of delivery operations. However, the CDC points out that coronavirus getting spread from person to person usually happens “among close contacts (about 6 feet),” making the measures around contactless delivery necessary if food delivery is to continue.
Others are skipping the human element altogether and relying heavily on technology. A hotel in Hangzhou, China has been dispatching robots to deliver meals to quarantined guests.