Fast-food companies in China implement 'contactless' delivery, pickup in wake of outbreak

Fast-food companies operating in China have taken extraordinary steps to contain the spread of the coronavirus by ramping up “contactless” pickup and delivery services to keep both their workers and customers safe, Reuters reported Sunday.

The companies taking the extra precautions include McDonald’s, Starbucks and Kentucky Fried Chicken, the report said.

McDonald’s has instituted contactless pickup and delivery of Big Macs, fries and other menu items across the country as the outbreak has grown.

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As part of the plan, customers order remotely – by mobile phones or using computers in the restaurants – and employees seal the meals in bags and put them in a pre-arranged location for pickup without human contact, McDonald’s says on its website.

Delivery order procedures have also undergone revisions as drivers now drop McDonald’s packages at building entrances, disinfect their delivery bags and wash their hands more frequently, the wire service reported. Drivers also now carry ID cards showing they - and the people who made and packaged their food - had their body temperature scanned to prove they do not have a fever.

An entrance to a closed McDonald's Corp. restaurant is barricaded near the famous West Lake, usually a popular tourist attraction, in Hangzhou, China, on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020. The death toll from the coronavirus climbed above 1,000, as the Chinese province at the epicenter of the outbreak reported its highest number of fatalities yet. Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images

An entrance to a closed McDonald's Corp. restaurant is barricaded near the famous West Lake, usually a popular tourist attraction, in Hangzhou, China, on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020. The death toll from the coronavirus climbed above 1,000, as the Chinese province at the epicenter of the outbreak reported its highest number of fatalities yet. Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The flu-like virus has infected more than 70,548 people globally and killed 1,770 as of Sunday, mostly in the central Chinese province of Hubei.

In early February, 83 percent of all stores on the Meituan-Dianping delivery platform - one of the largest in the country - were closed, according to Beijing-based data firm BigOne Lab.

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Starbucks has implemented procedures where customers order coffee via its app and then wait outside its cafés until receiving a pick-up notice, Reuters reported. Orders are placed on tables just inside café entrances.

If customers enter Starbucks locations, they must submit to having their temperature taken at the door, as fever is one of the main symptoms of infection, and baristas wear masks.

For delivery, Starbucks said it regularly sterilizes containers and its delivery people have their temperature taken daily, the report said. Indoors staff must wash hands every 30 minutes, and public areas are sterilized every two hours.

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Meanwhile, Yum China Holdings Inc rolled out contactless delivery on Jan. 30, with contactless pickup coming two days later at its KFC and Pizza Hut locations, the company said.

Chinese companies used contactless delivery prior to coronavirus, as couriers would drop packages at a consumer’s door or lobby or place parcels in lockers for later pickup.

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But since the outbreak, many residential compounds are limiting access for drivers and asking customers to pick up their own packages.

In transactions that previously would have involved one person handing a package to the other, the driver now puts the food down – on the back of a moped, for instance – and then steps back and waits for the customer to take it and leave.