Telangana chief minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao has banned operations of food delivery platforms including Swiggy and Zomato “until further orders”, while allowing online grocery delivery platforms, such as BigBasket, to operate. Rao made these announcements at a press conference where he extended the lockdown till May 7. There are 844 COVID-19 positive cases in Telangana, and 18 people have died so far, according to the Union Health Ministry.
Telangana is the first state to both extend the lockdown longer than the nationwide lockdown until May 3, and also the first state to disallow online food delivery platforms to operate despite them being considered as “essential services” and allowed to operate during the lockdown by the central government. We have reached out to Swiggy and Zomato for comment.
The decision to suspend operations of food delivery platforms in the state was taken after a pizza delivery personnel in Delhi tested positive for the coronavirus last week, and 72 families were put in quarantine consequently. “We won’t die if we don’t eat pizza”, Rao said. A Swiggy delivery personnel in Hyderabad has also tested positive for the virus yesterday. Rao said that while the platforms pay taxes to the state government, the cabinet took the decision since “public health is more important than revenue”.
Zomato, meanwhile, has introduced “contactless dining”in an attempt to reopen restaurants, which have either switched to delivery-only, or have had to temporarily shut, due to the COVID-19 crisis. It will allow diners to scan the menu via QR code, order via the app, and pay the bill on the phone.