Online food delivery platforms Zomato and Swiggy have been ordered to shut down in several states during the 21-day lockdown despite the union government’s guidelines categorizing food delivery under essential services.
Tamil Nadu, Chattisgarh, Bihar, Assam and Pondicherry have directed Zomato and Swiggy to stop operations during the lockdown. “Only cooked food supply from Swiggy and Zomato are not allowed,” tweeted Greater Chennai Corporation, a civic body that governs the capital city of Tamil Nadu.
#Update Dry rations, Vegetables and Groceries from local super market & E-commerce are ALLOWED to home deliver in… https://t.co/RaQiz2vTaI
— Greater Chennai Corporation (@chennaicorp) 1585189744000
Some states are increasingly making on-ground execution of services difficult in select pockets by resorting to police force, and selectively closing kitchens, according to company officials and restaurant owners that ET spoke to. Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, however, have allowed food deliveries with time restrictions.
“Food, including cooked food, is an essential service for at least 20% of the country’s population like students, paying guests and young professionals who depend on it, especially at a time like this when the country has advised everyone for medical reasons to stay where they are, and not travel back home,” said Vivek Sunder, chief operating officer at Swiggy.
Over the last two days, Karnataka, Delhi-NCR and Maharashtra—the largest markets for India’s food delivery startups—have moved fast and issued notifications to local authorities to let food deliveries function smoothly. “We are working through the teething issues due to the lockdown,” said Deepinder Goyal, founder and CEO, Zomato. “We are yet to see 100% impact in most states.”
Delhi, Maharashtra and Karnataka state governments have moved fast and already issued notifications to local author… https://t.co/oxfahQlxc2
— Deepinder Goyal (@deepigoyal) 1585217222000
That comes at a time when food delivery aggregators are faced with a two-fold problem—getting permissions to operate, and ensuring restaurant partners are set up to open operations.
Both Swiggy and Zomato acknowledged that across cities some kitchens have taken the call to shut down during the lockdown. This is due to a mix of problems that kitchens are facing on the ground including arranging manpower, procuring fresh supplies and packaging material as well as generating the right volume of orders to make operations sustainable.
However, there are a few kitchens which have started hygiene and safety checks and are waiting to go live as soon as they get permission. “My staff is at the premises, they are waiting for their passes from Bengaluru police…the minute we have that we open operations,” said Nitin Saluja, founder, Chaayos.