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UAE residents can opt for contactless deliveries when ordering meals online. Picture used for illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: A number of restrictions have been put into place across restaurants in the UAE, in a bid to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

According to a circular issued by the Health and Safety Department of Dubai Municipality on March 16, food establishments have to follow the mandatory requirements, with action being taken against those who fail to adhere.

The circular also called on restaurants and food outlets to increase take-outs and home delivery orders with adequate food safety precautions.

While food orders are expected to surge, with less residents opting to dine-in, food delivery apps have also taken further measures to ensure the public safety by introducing contactless deliveries, in addition to a number of precautions.

The new safe delivery methods means that customers have the option of selecting contactless delivery when they order online, leaving instructions for where want the order to be placed, and selecting pre-payment and pre-tipping options to minimize hand-to-hand contact.

In a statement, Zomato explained that are continuously training and educating its delivery partners on the best practices of personal hygiene, as well as the proper method and frequency of hand washing or sanitizing.

“Delivery partners are being sent various advisories on COVID-19 released by the Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) to keep them updated on the situation. We are especially emphasizing on best practices on how to handle food packages to ensure safe and hygienic delivery,” it said.

“In case you want to avoid contact with our delivery partner, you can request Zomato Valet to leave your package at the door via delivery instructions on our app and the Zomato Valet will leave your package at the door safely,” it said. However, this will only work on prepaid orders.

Uber Eats also announced that it will allow users to request contactless delivery.

Tomaso Rodriguez, CEO of Talabat, pointed that the food delivery company already started taking precautionary measures back in January.

In a statement, Rodriguez said: “We are liaising with governments and following their guidelines to introduce additional precautionary health and safety measures, as well as using our technology and channels to educate and raise awareness about these measures.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) previously issued precautionary recommendations with regard to food safety, including advice on following good hygiene practices during food handling and preparation, such as washing hands, cooking meat thoroughly and avoiding potential cross-contamination between cooked and uncooked foods.

“For customers, we have added more free delivery options to support nearby restaurants and introduced contactless deliveries. When placing an order, you can choose a cashless option, which allows for a contactless delivery,” he said.

“This means that our rider will connect with you before placing and leaving your order by your door. Ensuring a healthy and safe community is our shared responsibility and we encourage all to practice personal hygiene - whether at home or when out and about.”