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Deliveroo brings in new measures to cope with coronavirus

Food delivery service unveils measures to help both customers and drivers as COVID-19 pandemic spreads

As the world continues to struggle with the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), one of the open questions was what would happen to services like Deliveroo. If people are advised to stay home and self isolate, then how can such services function – especially when drivers are self-employed contractors without the employee protections enjoyed by staffers?

Deliveroo founder Will Shu has sought to answer some of these questions in an email to customers seen by Expert Reviews. “My absolute number one priority is the safety of customers, riders and restaurants, no matter what happens,” he wrote.

Shu noted that the company will be working to the latest advice given by Public Health England, but has taken some initial steps to deal with the sudden change of circumstances.

First up, Deliveroo will be introducing a ‘no-contact drop-off service’ for food, meaning that those who have been given doctor’s orders to quarantine themselves can get deliveries without having to have any contact with the delivery driver. The company will also be providing restaurants and takeaways with “additional packaging and stickers to seal the delivery bags.”

Secondly, the company said it is working with local stores and supermarkets to provide kitchen supplies and household products for those who can’t leave the house. These will appear in the Deliveroo app alongside the usual range of restaurants and takeaways.

Finally, there’s the drivers themselves. Deliveroo has opened up a fund to support drivers who are diagnosed with coronavirus to ensure that they’re financially covered while unable to work. How big or generous this fund is isn’t clear, but it is something for vulnerable gig economy workers to fall back on if things progress as health experts are anticipating.

“Throughout this time, we’ll be relentlessly focussed on doing everything we can to support the restaurants and riders working with us, and to bring you safe deliveries from the best restaurants across the country,” Shu’s email concluded.

These are all sensible sounding first steps, but they don’t really explain what will happen if things really deteriorate. But then if everyone is ordered to stay home, then there won’t be any restaurants to deliver from anyway…

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