Coronavirus

Food Focus Shifts To Takeout, Delivery; McDonald’s, Doordash To Help Franchisees, Workers; Blue Apron Stock Up

Food Industry

The dining industry — from quick-service restaurants (QSRs) to on-demand delivery platforms — is making preparations to contend with the coronavirus. Here are the latest updates on the coronavirus around the world.

McDonald’s may provide rental deferrals to some franchisees as locations see traffic plummet or shutter, CNBC reported. The QSR chain is working with franchisees worldwide to support liquidity per a regulatory filing that also noted that “substantially all” stores domestically are operating only with takeout, delivery or drive thru. Approximately 90 percent of the chain’s locations worldwide are operated by franchisees.

In other news, Instacart has been working to provide shoppers with additional resources and new features, according to a post from the company, which, in one case, introduced a “cancel batch” feature if shoppers can’t shop for a chosen batch. It has also temporarily stopped prioritizing batch access due to average star rating. The post also said that “given the current national state of emergency, all ratings below 5 stars will be automatically forgiven during this time period.”

On another note, President Donald Trump talked with restaurant executives regarding maintaining drive-thru options and financial support for the vertical, CNBC reported. The CEOs of Subway, Yum Brands, Wendy’s and Domino’s Pizza, among others, reportedly participated in the call. Trump lauded the executives, saying, per the report, “They have been fantastic.” Heidi Schauer, Wendy’s spokesperson, said, in part, “We are grateful that the White House sought our collective industry perspective.”

Meanwhile, as cities are making restaurants reduce their operations and supermarket shelves are cleared by panic buying, shares of meal kit company Blue Apron have increased by over two times, Bloomberg reported. Grocery stores are swamped with shoppers, while some cities are restricting eateries to delivery and takeout. Bloomberg Intelligence Senior Analyst Jennifer Bartashus said per the report, “With so many households practicing social distancing and remaining at home, getting fresh ingredients for at-home preparation holds appeal.”

In other news, DoorDash plans to provide delivery workers that come down with a COVID-19 diagnosis or are quarantined with financial help, according to reports. Workers for DoorDash in the U.S., Canada or Australia can get a maximum of two weeks of financial support if they become ill with COVID-19 or they are put under quarantine by a public health agency. Workers need to have made a minimum of 30 deliveries in the past 30 days and activity on the platform for a minimum of 60 days. The platform’s set delivery method will be no-contact, but clients can still choose to have their orders delivered by hand, although workers can still initiate a delivery without contact. Also, the company is reportedly sending workers sets of gloves and hand sanitizer.

And, gig economy companies are moving to offer health “benefits” to their workers as the gig economy offers a service that is now impossible to do without amid the COVID-19 crisis, the Financial Times reported. (The gig economy, for its part, is reportedly still in operation in San Francisco — a place where inhabitants have been instructed to “shelter in place.”) Uber, DoorDash, Lyft, Postmates, Instacart, and other players have detailed programs to compensate laborers for time away from work. The offerings, however, reportedly only come into play if an individual is put into a quarantine enforced by the government or receives a COVID-19 diagnosis.

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