Kochi: COVID-19 taking toll on food industry

By Mariah Dins

Kochi, Kerala: With news reports saying there are as many as 104 active cases of Coronavirun, Kerala is in complete lockdown and the food service industry has been badly affected.

Navya Ann, a 25-year-old IT professional said, “ I used to order regularly from Swiggy. After coming back from work at 8 p.m. these online food delivery apps were the only resort to have some food. The situation has changed due to Coronavirus, as everybody is afraid to come in contact with an outsider or even touch a package which somebody else has touched.”

Even though food delivery apps like Swiggy and Zomato are coming forward with their preventive measures like offering its customers the option of having their food package dropped outside their door to avoid direct contact with the delivery executive, the number of customers ordering food has been seeing a huge drop day by day.

“I used to get at least 25 to 30 deliveries per day before and now it has reduced to 5 to 10 per day. The number of orders has decreased as well as the number of delivery executives. Many of them stopped taking orders with the fear of coming in contact with someone infected with the virus,” said Sujimon. K, Swiggy delivery executive.

A Swiggy spokesperson said the company has asked their delivery executives to immediately reach out to medical professionals and quarantine themselves for 14 days upon noticing symptoms.

The apps have also been actively spreading awareness on washing hands, using hand sanitizers and maintaining social distancing.

“ In a situation where the number of people getting affected day by day globally is increasing, it is better to stay at home, cook for yourself and avoid contact with people as much as possible. We do not know how or when we can get affected,” said Vinod Narayanan, local resident.

The restaurants in Kochi city are also seen deserted. Looking through the glass doors we can see empty tables, chairs and jobless waiters looking out for customers.

“There is no use in keeping the restaurant open from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. because there are no people coming. The only orders we get are through online delivery apps. We started preparing less food as a lot of food was wasted in the past few days. If this situation persists it will be very difficult for us to get any revenue,” said the Manager of Chiyang Restaurant, one of the busiest Chinese restaurant in the city.

The Government of Kerala announced that all restaurants can remain open and only serve food by using the means of home delivery during the State lockdown.