Getting Food at Bangkok Malls in 2021
GURU EDITOR'S NOTE
On Sunday, the Centre of Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) announced 29 provinces as dark red zones, up from the previous 13, along with strict measures to control the spread. Bangkok is, of course, a dark red zone and most of the prohibitions and temporary closures of certain venues are understandable. One prohibition, in particular, at the time of going to print has left me (and many others) scratching their heads.
On August 1, the Royal Gazette published, and in gist said, "Shops selling food and drink inside department stores, shopping centres, community malls and other venues of similar nature in maximum and strict controlled areas (dark red) can open until 8pm for food delivery service only. There must not be direct selling to customers to reduce contact between sellers and many customers."
To illustrate how puzzling this stipulation sounds, allow me to present you the following scenario.
You know you take risks every time you go out but you've been holed up for weeks and you can't buy everything you need from a convenience store. After you're done buying stuff from a supermarket at your usual mall, you feel peckish. Navigating those aisles while keeping social distances from other shoppers with two layers of masks is more tiring than you think. Since you're already there, why not check out restaurants for freshly cooked food, too?
You go up to the floor where the restaurants are. Thank Buddha, your favourite restaurant is open. You walk there only to be told you that can't order even though you're standing right there on your two feet. You're told takeaways aren't allowed at the moment and that they accept food orders via delivery service only. This means you need help from a rider of one of those food delivery apps. You're confused since you're already there in the flesh. Why can't the restaurant just give you the food? Anywho, you have several choices of what to do;
1) You order via a food delivery app and wait there until your rider arrives to pick up the order for you. And then he walks several steps to give you your food.
2) You drive home. Order food via the app and wait for the rider to deliver food to your address.
3) Damn the rule and GP. You sneakily contact the restaurant, pay for your food via bank transfer, you tell them to drop your order at a designated spot outside the mall. Then you pick the damn food up at the said spot and go home to eat it. Then you realise you've put way too much work into this.
4) Next time you know to order food from the restaurant via the app in advance while you're buying things at a supermarket. By the time you're done, the rider can pick up your food from the fifth floor and go down to the ground floor where you are to hand it to you.
5) You somehow manage to buy a rider's jacket and pretend to be one to collect your food. The restaurant and you have to be in cahoots for this scheme to work obviously.
6) You give up and decide to stick to microwave meals from a certain convenience store franchise instead.
Regardless of the choice you entertain, you probably wreck your brain for justification for this no-pick-up stipulation. Is it really necessary? Doesn't allowing food to be delivered through a rider add one more contact -- and perhaps unnecessarily so -- in this process? If you can pick up takeaway from a mall restaurant by yourself, it's just one contact between you and the staff. With a rider as an intermediary, it's between the rider and the restaurant and then the rider and you.
Are these riders less susceptible as potential carriers of Covid than non-riders? Or -- and no offence is meant to them by me saying this -- is it the other way around since they have to drive around town, meet people and work outside every day?
I would like to give people credit that if they are allowed to pick up food from mall restaurants, they would know to ask the restaurant to call them when their order is ready to be picked up. And while they wait for their food, they would just sit somewhere while keeping away from another person. Mall operators can be proactive by setting up a designated area where people can order food from their tenant restaurants and come to collect it when it's ready while keeping a safe distance from each other -- something many department stores already did last March.
With due respect as always, I would like to appeal to the powers that be to reconsider this rule, which many find unnecessary. As I'm writing this, an unconfirmed report already surfaced that this rule may get reversed. Allowing takeaways would at least mean less GP fee mall restaurants owe food delivery apps (and I'm not saying they are bad guys in this scenario, either). Restaurants have been severely hit by the pandemic as it is.
Guru section Editor
Guru section Editor
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