Don’t trust Zomato app if it says your delivery boy has no fever

Crime Health Kolkata Lifestyle

Some eateries have not been checking temperature of food delivery executives before handing over parcels to them

Riddhiman Roy

Kolkata: Citing the drain on cost and time, not all the restaurants availing of food delivery services are abiding by the precautions that were introduced to ensure safe delivery.

While there is still a ban on dining in, eateries are allowed to run a kitchen for food delivery and takeaway. To win customers’ confidence amid the threat of coronavirus transmission, the F&B industry and the delivery partners have declared a host of measures surrounding hygiene and safety. However, ground reality shows that not all the precautions are being followed in letter and spirit.

Food delivery unicorn Zomato’s app was updated to show the temperature of the delivery executive so that customers can know that the person bringing their food does not have fever, a symptom of Covid-19. Restaurants are required to check the temperature of delivery executives before handing over the parcel to them. NewsNet found three eateries in Kolkata to be circumventing this precautionary step. 

Zeeshan, a popular fast food outlet in Jadavpur, is a case in point. Its owner Sheikh Shahinur Islam is upfront about why he hasn’t bought an infrared thermometer yet to check the temperature of delivery executives. He noted that all businesses are running low on money in these times. He said he’s taking care of hygiene in his eatery and sees to it that none of his employees show up with Covid-19 symptoms. 

“It is Zomato’s responsibility to take care of their delivery personnel, not mine. They should not expect me to spend my capital to do their job,” he said.

Relatively big budget eating joints such as the multi-cuisine Golden Gate Restaurant in Jadavpur too haven’t begun checking the temperature of Zomato delivery executives before handing them the parcels. Sambit Talukdar, a receptionist at the hotel, told NewsNet they don’t check temperature as doing so would consume a lot of time and hamper their ability to serve the large number of orders they get. 

Checking temperature with the infrared thermometer, however, takes barely a few seconds. 

Dada Boudi Hotel in Barrackpore, famous for its biryani, is another high-profile eatery that’s not been checking delivery executives’ temperature diligently. Citing the cost of the infrared thermometer—the cheapest model is priced upwards of Rs2,000—the Dada of Dada Boudi Hotel, Shirshendu Ghatak, said: “If we spend so much of money on buying a thermometer, then that thermometer better know how to cook biryani and help us in running business.” 

He clarified that he does not have any disdain for Zomato or its rules. He said his eatery does offer the standard glass thermometer to the delivery executives. While the infrared thermometer requires no contact with the person whose temperature is to be checked, the glass one needs to be kept in the mouth for a minute. Most delivery executives avoid using glass thermometers as they are wary these could be contaminated.

‘Most hotels don’t check temperature’

A Zomato delivery executive told NewsNet such restaurants don’t check the temperature of delivery executives and enter any acceptable number in the app. Requesting anonymity as he feared for his job, he said most restaurants he picks up parcels from don’t bother checking the temperature. He said only expensive, fine-dining restaurants—but not all of them—follow this protocol. 

Aakash Bhattacharjee, Business Partnership Head of Zomato, Kolkata, said they are aware of restaurants resorting to this practice. He said Zomato was planning to provide an infrared thermometer to every restaurant whose monthly income is less than Rs25,000. 

He said business has been bad ever since the lockdown was imposed and restaurants are vying to improve the customer experience by anyhow reducing the time it takes to deliver an order. He underlined that these restaurants need to be mindful that the precautions are meant to protect the business and that cutting corners can prove costly.

Asim Roy Chowdhury, secretary of Jagorani, an NGO working towards providing food and education to beggars and slum dwellers, said one cannot expect small eateries to acquire an expensive thermometer in these times of economic slowdown. He put the onus on the government to come up with a cheaper alternative.

As many as 72 families in south Delhi had to be put under quarantine mid-April after a pizza delivery boy who had served them was tested positive for Covid-19. The episode had put a question mark on the safety of ordering food from outside, compelling restaurants and delivery partners to step up their efforts and bring in measures to win people’s confidence.


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