Uber Eats and Deliveroo have been given the green light to deliver groceries and medicine during Melbourne’s lockdown

Deliveroo is navigating the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia. (Matthew Horwood, Getty Images)
  • Deliveroo and Uber Eats are being permitted to operate under Melbourne’s tough level four restrictions.
  • While food delivery demand remains high during the pandemic, the companies have diversified into delivering groceries and medicines as well.
  • It comes as the Victorian state government clarifies its Melbourne restrictions to allow Australia Post, couriers, telcos and school staff among others to continue working.
  • Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.

Amid escalating lockdown restrictions, the gig economy’s diversification into essential goods is proving to be a masterstroke.

Over the weekend, the Victorian government again updated Melbourne’s stage four restriction guidelines, granting a string of exemptions for different industries hampered by the shutdown.

The revisions are primarily aimed at permitting essential services like Australia Post and others to continue operating throughout the city.

Enter food delivery service Deliveroo. Its recent partnership with service station BP and convenience chain EzyMart has helped lift its credentials during the pandemic.

“Maintaining a wide range of food delivery services is vital to support people unable to leave their homes, to support our restaurant partners and their own supply chains, and to help reduce pressure on supermarkets as the only source of food,” Deliveroo Australia CEO Ed McManus told Business Insider Australia in a statement.

The diversification allows the UK-owned delivery company to offer more than just dinner, bringing homebound Melbournians pantry items as well.

“We have seen a steady increase in demand for convenience items … [which] has grown significantly since the onset of COVID,” McManus said.

“We see each of these initiatives as important elements to the Deliveroo offering, ensuring people at home have access to household essentials, now and into the future.”

Rival Uber Eats has made a similar play, partnering with that other service station giant Caltex. It last week promised its gig workers would deliver over the counter medicines such as panadol and Advil in 30 minutes or less.

With Melbournians instructed to stay home, and Australians elsewhere feeling increasingly anxious about recent outbreaks, it’s clearly a smart move to capitalise on a new market. Even more so, when the rideshare business itself is dealing with dwindling demand.

It may receive a small boost as permitted workers in Melbourne are again allowed to take rideshare, along with others for “medical, care or compassionate grounds”.

Others explicitly permitted under the revisions include Telstra and other telcos, posties from Australia Post and delivery service employees, emergency insurance assessors, construction businesses, electoral office staff, and school employees.

Meanwhile, food delivery remains not only operating but apparently thriving. McManus told Business Insider Australia that demand for food delivery has risen throughout the day as more workers at home order in.

With Amazon having recently taken a 16% stake in the company, Jeff Bezos looks like he can’t put a foot wrong in this pandemic.