As the country stays home, food delivery riders brave the streets to keep Malaysians fed during Covid-19 shutdown

Tan Mei Zi
As a frontline worker during the shutdown, GrabFood rider Muhammad Asri Mohamad Ibrahim has been taking every precaution to stay clean. — Picture courtesy of GrabFood

PETALING JAYA, March 27 — Eating out has become a distant memory for many Malaysians who have been confined to their homes under the Covid-19 movement control order (MCO).

But food delivery riders across the country have become unsung heroes in these trying times, delivering tasty meals from restaurants that have stopped accepting dine-in customers since March 18 in a bid to stop the spread of the virus.

GrabFood rider Muhammad Asri Mohamad Ibrahim said he was taking extra care to ensure his hands and equipment stayed squeaky clean as he made his rounds across the Klang Valley.

Since the MCO began, the 27-year-old said there’s been a sharp spike in orders from hungry Malaysians craving for their favourite dishes.

“We have to be extra careful with how we handle the food, so I always wear a mask, sanitise my hands, and make sure my bag is always clean too.

“Other than that, we’ve been advised to practice contactless deliveries, so that is another precaution I’m taking to make sure I and the customer I deliver to are safe,” he told Malay Mail via email.

With fewer cars on the roads and thinner crowds at restaurants, Muhammad Asri said working during the shutdown does have its perks, but it could get quite surreal seeing the city so quiet after the sun sets.

“It’s actually pretty enjoyable as there’s no traffic and I can deliver food a bit faster, but it does get a bit eerie at night — I’m not used to seeing the roads with no cars around at all.”

Foodpanda rider Muhammad Mohamad Safiruddin, known fondly as Kitaro, has also adapted his routine and never leaves for work without a bottle of hand sanitiser and protective gear to keep germs away.

Kitaro said his loved ones do worry about him being a frontliner during the pandemic, but he was doing his best to reassure them by adhering to strict hygiene guidelines set out by his company.

Kitaro revealed that some customers have tipped him free masks to say ‘thank you’ for his efforts. — Picture courtesy of Foodpanda

Delivering food to his fellow Malaysians during this difficult period was also a source of pride for the 22-year-old, who has been a Foodpanda rider for two years.

Some kind-hearted customers have even given him free face masks as a gesture of thanks for braving the frontlines.

“My family and friends share concerns about me doing delivery especially during these trying times, but I would say I am honoured to be able to contribute by delivering food to our nation.

“I am also proud to be part of the frontliners alongside the doctors, nurses, policemen, and army.

“We also understand how other frontliners struggle to ensure everyone is safe, and we riders believe it’s also our responsibility to provide as much help to lessen the burden of other frontliners,” said Kitaro.

As the country wades through uncertain times, Kitaro said he kept his spirits up by reminding himself that the shutdown was a proactive measure that would hopefully contain Covid-19.

He urged Malaysians to adhere to the MCO rules and stay at home to put the brakes on the virus.

“It’s definitely worrying to see the number of positive patients hiking up everyday. I hope that there will be a cure for this virus soon.

“For all Malaysians, please stay at home. We come to work to deliver food for you. You stay at home for us. Let’s do it together.”

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