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Food delivery service goes on despite the freeze

December 31, 2020 |

The city’s food delivery riders are a lot busier in the cold weather.

At MTR City Plaza, one of the most popular commercial areas in Putuo District, about 50 delivery staff from online food delivery platform Ele.me gathered earlier than normal for a morning meeting on Wednesday.

“We have to make preparations for the brunch-hour orders, which tend to fall earlier as the weather gets colder,” said Ele.me’s Zhang Xiaojia.

“To prepare for the cold weather, we’ve provided winter materials to delivery staff for a while now,” said Zhang. “We will also give them extra subsidies for severe weather like today.”

Delivery workers were already wearing thick jackets, gloves, wind-proof helmets and knee protectors. Ele.me prepared the winter gear days ahead and warm drinks such as ginger tea at service stations.

The gear had been offered before the current cold front, according to Zhang. But Yuan Qikai, head of the delivery crew, still reminded them to take care amid the cold.

“It will be an especially chilling and busy day for all of us,” Yuan told them. “Be aware of the road conditions and do remember to wear gloves.”

Each received their share of a typical Chinese-style breakfast, warm buns and soya milk, before setting out on a particularly cold day.

Orders started to come in around 10:15am, as nearby workers like to begin their day with coffee and bagels.

The orders in this business area are pretty concentrated. The B1 and B2 floors of the plaza are taken up by various eateries and tea shops, meeting the demand of surrounding office buildings.

Delivery rider Yu Peng rushed to a bubble tea stand on B1, saying there was no time to waste this morning.

“Usually we can have a rest at the service station after the morning meeting, waiting for the lunch orders,” said Yu. “But recently, more people tend to order breakfast after they arrive at work.”

Yu said Tuesday night was a real fight, as he finished his last delivery around 11pm, when the temperature began to fall below zero.

“My cheeks ached severely after the sleet and rains blew in my face,” said Yu. “But if you bundle yourself up too much, that would be inconvenient for rides.”

Yu said he could complete up to eight orders during peak hours.

“The company encourages us to work especially in this type of weather,” Yu added. “But the number of orders you receive is all up to you.”

To ensure the operation of takeout services, JD and Walmart-backed Dada Group said its crowdsourcing delivery service set up some 400 rest stations across the country for delivery staff last month in cooperation with grocery stores and supermarket chains.

At Shanghai’s G-Super in Baoshan Wanda Plaza, hot water, personal protection equipment and rain jackets are provided.

General manager Zhang Jing said it wanted to send warm regards to those who have to go out in the cold weather.

It’s among some 60 local service stations for delivery staff in Shanghai set up by Dada.

Under extreme conditions, delivery platforms have also extended the time limit on expected delivery times.