Zomato will extend all paid Gold memberships across India, UAE, Australia, Indonesia, Philippines, Lebanon, Turkey, New Zealand, Portugal and Qatar by two months at no extra cost, founder Deepinder Goyal announced. The company will also start a fund to cover up the lost earnings of its delivery partners, and is “hoping” for government’s support towards this. We have reached out to Zomato for more details. This comes after confusion around operations of e-commerce delivery services arose in the wake of a 3-week long lockdown in India to combat the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. As per Home Ministry guidelines, e-commerce delivery of food, medicines and medical equipment is exempt from the lockdown.

Loans for Gold partner restaurants, delivery restaurant partners: Goyal also announced loans for dining out restaurants who offer Zomato’s Gold services and its food delivery restaurant partners. He tweeted that Zomato could only provide loans to Gold partner restaurants because “the transactions flow through us, and it is easier and cheaper for our fintech partners to underwrite it”. However, the loans for dining out Gold partner restaurants will also have certain terms and conditions, which Goyal did not specify. He said that the company was “trying to figure out” how it can help restaurants that currently don’t qualify of availing a loan from Zomato.

COVID-19 adversely affects the gig economy: The COVID-19 pandemic has forced India to shut itself down for 21 days to curtail the movement of people out on the streets. Schools, colleges, shopping malls remain shut, and many companies around the country have asked their employees to work from home. The nationwide curfew has reportedly resulted in orders on food delivery platforms such as Swiggy and Zomato plummeting by at least 60%. Uber and Ola drivers have called for loan waivers and reduction in commissions to offset their shrinking revenues. The pandemic, and the curfew, together have the potential to put the livelihoods of delivery persons, and the gig economy, on life support. Hundreds of Zomato employees have taken “deep voluntary salary cuts“, as per Goyal.

E-commerce services hampered as nation locked down: Day one of the lockdown saw massive confusion on the ground, despite the Home Ministry exempting  e-commerce delivery of essential goods, including food, pharmaceuticals, and medical equipment, from the curfew. Some e-commerce companies claimed that local authorities were forcing them to stop deliveries, or that their staff on the ground was heckled by local police. Several e-commerce companies in India, including Amazon, Flipkart, Grofers and BigBasket, had either put a hold on operations, or were otherwise inaccessible.

Local law enforcement slowly allowing delivery services to operate: E-commerce firms and delivery service providers that deliver “essential” goods such as food and medicines can email Mumbai Police to continue operations in the city. Yesterday afternoon, the Gurugram police allowed Zomato among other e-commerce platforms to operate in the city, while Hyderabad said that e-commerce companies can obtain passes in order to operate in the city.

Read more about e-commerce operations during the 21-day lockdown here.