Delivery companies allege 'harassment, arrests' by cops

Amid increased lockdowns and curfews, delivery fleet of companies including Zomato and Swiggy and restaurants which have been allowed to deliver on their own are facing ‘harassment and even arrests by the police on charges which are incorrect,’ industry executives said.

“Despite following all Covid protocols, our delivery personnel are being harassed and even arrested by Delhi Police. Request you to send out urgent necessary instructions to stop this right away. This is the least you can do for our beleaguered sector,” the National Restaurants Association of India (NRAI), which represents over five lakh restaurants in India, tweeted on Friday.

“We have got feedback from dozens of our fleet about harassment on false allegations by the police in Delhi specially. We are trying to get the matter resolved as soon as possible,” an executive at search and delivery company Zomato said.

Several states including Delhi, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab have announced a slew of restrictions including night curfews and lockdowns, to curb the spread of the virus. In Delhi, the state government has imposed a night curfew from 10 pm to 5 am till April 30, after which deliveries are not being allowed. In Mumbai where the curbs are far more stringent, however, food deliveries have now been allowed 24×7 by the state authorities. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Thursday also allowed restaurants and hotels to deliver food directly to consumers’ homes and not just through aggregators. The civic body had, on Sunday allowed only online delivery portals to deliver food, groceries and other essentials, and had curbed takeaway facilities.

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“We are following all guidelines clearly; we fear that harassment by enforcement entities in one state could spill over to other states as well,” said an official at one of India’s largest multinational restaurant chains. He requested not to be named.

On Friday, McDonald’s said it is starting deliveries till 3 am from select stores in Mumbai, following the state government’s notification.

The hospitality sector is banking only on deliveries in Maharashtra and operating with curbs in various other states, amid localised lockdowns and curfews. “With new curfew timings of 10 pm – 5 am, it is going to be a very difficult time for the restaurant sector. This prohibits dining completely post 9 pm and also affects the delivery business that contributes to the major proportion of revenue in our business,” NRAI vice president Kabir Suri, also co-founder of Azure Hospitality, had said after the Arvind Kejriwal government announced a night curfew in the capital on Tuesday. Azure operates the Mamagoto and Foxtrot restaurant chains, among others.



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