The government’s controversial food delivery rules for restaurants in shopping malls have triggered an outcry from customers and restaurant operators, claiming the rules overcomplicate things and do not please customers.
Restaurants in department stores and shopping malls in the maximum and strict controlled areas, currently 29 provinces in Thailand, are now back in business again as of yesterday, August 3rd, for delivery services only. This may seem to potentially help the delivery and restaurant businesses however, the order has provoked public questions about whether it was a functional preventive measure to reduce the Covid-19 outbreak.
Previously, restaurants in malls were ordered closed entirely for two weeks, although restaurants outside of malls could open for delivery and take-away.
Now, restaurants in malls are open, but ONLY for delivery, and customers are not allowed to take away themselves. Yes, even if the customer is standing directly in front of the restaurant, they must use a delivery service to process the order.
Many business owners thought that the measure did not improve their financial status as they still have to unnecessarily pay for delivery company costs. According to business owners, if they were allowed to simply let customers pick up their orders or order at the counter, this would save money on delivery company fees. Moreover, not everyone is able to easily access food delivery applications. The measure, itself, also did not meet customers’ lifestyles in the outbreak situation.
Restaurant operators also did not consider that the relaxation of food reselling for only delivery purposes would significantly ease their financial burden after being closed for dining in for months in some areas like Bangkok. Many, in fact, have decided to remain closed until rules loosen further.
One of the biggest complaints, especially on Thai social media, was that customers could not under any circumstance order themselves and take away. Instead, the customer, often standing in front of a store and unaware of the policy, would be told to order through a delivery company like GRAB and wait for the order to process, go through, the driver to arrive at the store, and then to hand to them-directly in front of the store. This would turn the process of buying a quick meal into a much longer one, and additionally add MORE people to an interaction with the addition of the delivery driver.
Despite the public outcry, the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) today, August 4th, insisted that the measures would remain unchanged, reasoning that such relaxation may cause heavy traffic in department stores and restaurants that may lead to more interactions and unnecessary traveling among customers. The CCSA stated that they were concerned if restaurants in malls were allowed to offer take-away people would gather and wander the malls.
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