Stringent travel restrictions as part of Ho Chi Minh City’s pandemic response efforts have troubled delivery services for online grocery shopping, which has reported surging demand from people in the southern metropolis.
Staff of many supermarket and food store chains in Ho Chi Minh City on Monday had significant issues finding delivery workers to transport packed orders to customers.
City chairman Nguyen Thanh Phong has requested companies to reduce the number of their active delivery workers to a minimum level and by at least ten percent compared to July 22, when more extensive social distancing rules started to be enforced in the city.
With the number of delivery workers already thin, active employees could not make it through checkpoints between different wards due to inconsistent judgment on whether the delivered goods were essential, according to retailers.
As a result, many points of sale had no choice but to announce the suspension of their online sale services.
“Now we only focus on delivering old orders placed by phone, text message, and our app,” said a representative of Japanese supermarket chain AEON.
“At the same time, we have stopped accepting new orders by phone and through Grab and Now applications."
The number of grocery stalls on multi-service apps Grab and Now announcing their suspension on Monday also skyrocketed compared to Sunday.
“We focus on serving customers in our ward, limiting deliveries to other wards,” said the representative of food store S., which decided to turn off its operation on on-demand grocery service GrabMart from 10:00 am on Monday.
Meanwhile, a representative of MM Mega Market said that the supermarket’s essential goods delivery activities were still stable as it was focusing on orders for vegetables, tubers, meat, and fish.
But to avoid a backlog, the supermarket’s online ordering system has accepted only a limited number of orders.
Retailers have reported the delivery problems to the municipal Department of Industry and Trade for support.
Ho Chi Minh City authorities began implementing escalated social distancing regulations in line with the prime minister’s Directive No. 16 from July 22.
Accordingly, people are requested to stay home unless they go out for food, medicine, duties at essential businesses, or other emergencies.
All non-essential businesses as well as public transport, including buses, taxis, and ride-hailing vehicles, are suspended.
Tech-based and package delivery services are only allowed to transport essential goods, with their workers required to exhibit relevant documents at checkpoints.
The measures are Ho Chi Minh City’s response to the adverse development of the fourth wave of coronavirus infections, which emerged in late April and has infected 68,271 city dwellers so far.
Vietnam had documented 109,111 COVID-19 cases by Tuesday afternoon, with 18,570 recoveries and 524 deaths, according to the Ministry of Health’s statistics.
In the fourth bout, the country has recorded 105,338 local infections in 62 out of its 63 provinces and cities.