shanghai covid lockdowns
Social media footage shows reality of China's zero-Covid strategy
04:21 - Source: CNN
Hong Kong/Beijing CNN Business  — 

Chinese food delivery service Meituan has sent almost 1,000 extra workers to Shanghai to help supply groceries to millions of residents struggling with life under a strict Covid lockdown.

The company announced Thursday that it had rolled out a host of new measures in China’s financial hub, where complaints of high mental stress, and a lack of access to food and basic necessities, have emerged since authorities decided to extend stay-home measures indefinitely.

At a press conference with Shanghai officials, Meituan Vice President Mao Fang said that the company would introduce “urgent deliveries,” or next-day group deliveries, community bulk buying for meals and groceries, and autonomous delivery vehicles.

Shanghai, a major business center that is home to 25 million people, has become the epicenter of China’s latest coronavirus outbreak, as well as the latest test of its “zero-Covid” strategy.

As of Thursday, the city had reported more than 130,000 cases since its latest wave began in March.

Residents have been scrambling to access fresh food for weeks as panic over the lockdown ensued, with supermarket shelves wiped clean and many users waking up early to try to order groceries online.

Meituan’s service aims to ease those challenges — allowing users living in the same community to place orders together and receive them the next day, said Mao.

Priority is given to neighborhoods with “closed residential compounds and greater distribution pressure,” she added.

“The difficulty of buying vegetables reflected by the public is mainly due to the lack of sorting and distribution capacity,” the executive said at the media briefing. “To this end, Meituan has called nearly a thousand skilled sorting personnel from around the country to help.”

A worker sorting goods stored in a Meituan delivery vehicle.

As of Thursday, Meituan said it had delivered more than 200,000 orders through its emergency program, and planned to extend the service to other areas.

The company has also deployed a fleet of self-driving vans in Pudong, located in the eastern half of the city, to help dispatch daily supplies.

Widespread disruption

Businesses have been forced to adjust.