Coronavirus Hits Food Delivery, Ridesharing In China

As cases of the coronavirus swell in China, on-demand apps are seeing disruption in the country in lieu of benefiting from a homebound population. Food delivery apps, such as Sherpa’s, have cut their operations. One Bloomberg reporter noted that the grocery app of Alibaba Group told her that she couldn’t have items delivered, and directed her to a grocery store instead.

As consumers aim to get a cache of supplies and avoid walking out of their homes, the app is displaying lengthier wait times, and no longer has certain products. Many drivers for Didi, the nation’s biggest ridesharing app, have indicated that they frequently do not have work. In one case, per Bloomberg, a ridesharing driver noted that he must wait a half an hour or longer for a request, while he typically received one each minute around the Lunar New Year.

Meituan still has eateries available. However, many consumers are reportedly thinking twice about placing orders, as they are afraid that delivery couriers could infect them. In response, Meituan began providing a delivery option that lets couriers bring food to a set place, instead of requiring them to meet a diner.

At the same time, the report noted, schools have been shuttered, while theaters and stores have closed. 

This comes after news surfaced that the spread of the coronavirus has caused Apple to close its corporate offices and 42 retail stores in mainland China through Feb. 9. The tech company said the decision was made with an “abundance of caution, and based on the latest advice from leading health experts.” The eCommerce store of Apple will stay functional.

The Silicon Valley-based tech giant is also limiting business trips to China for only very important matters. The company said that extra cleaning measures are being put into place, and retail staffers are having their temperatures taken. Apple said on its quarterly earnings call that it wasn’t sure how the coronavirus might affect its operations, calling the coronavirus a “recently unfolding public health situation,” per past reports.