Contactless delivery in pandemic in HCMC

The information that a GrabBike driver in Ho Chi Minh City was infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus recently has made both ride-hailing drivers and users worried. In the context that e-commerce activities are encouraged to limit the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, this information raises questions on the pandemic prevention in the delivery activity when shopping online.
Contactless delivery in pandemic in HCMC ảnh 1 These days, the number of delivery workers has increased compared to normal, raising concerns about Covid-19 prevention. (Photo: SGGP)

Afraid, but still have to work

On Saturday morning, I opened the app to book a Grab ride. Picking me up was Hung, a 23-year-old driver, full of coat and facemask in accordance with regulations. When I asked about his work situation during the pandemic, he lamented that the nature of his job is to have to carry a lot of people, and he cannot ask his passengers to keep a distance of 2 meters. Despite the pandemic, he still regularly opens the app and receives customers every day because this is his main income-generating job. He said that he would go home immediately when he feels tired instead of gathering in the street to chit-chat with his fellow drivers as before.

These days, eateries are not allowed to serve diners directly, so people can only order food online. Nguyen Hoang, a food delivery worker, said that many people make payments in advance by bank accounts or e-wallets and restrict contact when receiving food. Hence, delivery workers are also somewhat feeling safe. However, for customers who pay by cash or receive food directly, he cannot reject them either.

Due to the pandemic, Ms. Thanh, 58, in Go Vap District, started doing business online a few months ago. She said that currently, whenever she receives calls from delivery workers, she leaves the packages ready in front of her house and stands 2 meters away, waiting for them to pick them up. “Doing that is to respects your health and your family,” she said.

Keeping safety for both

During these days, in the street, ride-hailing drivers still hustle back and forth. Previously, the delivery of goods often came with greetings, and everything was comfortable and friendly, but now all must be quick to prevent the pandemic. Tang Truong Giang, a 35-year-old delivery worker in District 8, said that he works for a postal unit during the day, and he is a food delivery worker at night. He said that he usually searched for information that whether the place he was going to deliver goods is blocked or not, then called his customers to verify if they could receive the packages. If they could not, he suggested his customers asking their acquaintances to get the goods for them. Although doing that is time-consuming and costly than normal, and sometimes he has to cancel the orders, because of the pandemic, he has to accept it.

Ho Thong, a 40-year-old Grab’s partner, said that the company stipulates that when delivering goods, delivery workers must keep a distance of 2 meters away from customers. He always carries hand sanitizer and does not talk to customers. Before making the delivery, he always texts via the app or calls his customers to confirm the orders. As for blocked areas, he uses the contactless delivery feature that the ride-hailing service company offers. The two parties will agree to put the package at an intermediary point so that they do not have to meet each other. When taking food from the eateries and delivering it, he keeps his distance and washes his hands after receiving the money. He always wears a facemask, even when taking a nap. He said that sometimes things do not go well, he also feels tired because everything is more complicated than before, but he has to try his best.

The pandemic situation is tense, so some ride-hailing drivers have temporarily stopped working due to safety concerns. On forums and groups of drivers, drivers also shared their worries when carrying passengers and delivering goods during the pandemic. Some drivers have turned off the app, not accepting passengers. Some drivers have switched to sell fruits or find other jobs. Except for those who become ride-hailing drivers to earn extra income, this is the main livelihood for most of the remaining drivers. Now they stop working, and it will also affect their bread and butter.

According to the Department of Transport of Ho Chi Minh City, there are 170,000 active ride-hailing drivers in the city. They are at high risk of exposure because they have to move a lot to serve the needs of the people.

Previously, in May this year, the Department of Transport of HCMC sent an official letter to request ride-hailing and delivery service providers to ensure Covid-19 prevention measures and comply with safety rules.

There are many opinions that delivery workers should be vaccinated against Covid-19 soon.