A Chinese office worker eats their meal surrounded by one of Meituan’s fold out protective “shields”. The company says that this free cover can help protect people from catching coronavirus in densely populated areas like offices and canteens.
Meituan, one of China’s biggest food delivery firms, is delivering a paper “shield” to diners ordering from its platform in order to help protect them from catching the coronavirus.
Users in Beijing and Shanghai can receive one of the protective covers with their delivery for free.
The shield unfolds to become a 20-inch wide “independent space.” Currently, eight restaurant chains are trying out the new shield that comes with their food delivery.
Meituan said the cover can effectively prevent meals from any water droplets that may come from their colleagues, particularly when people are eating in densely packed areas like office canteens or workspaces. While people in China are strongly encouraged to wear masks, they take them off when eating or drinking.
China has seen the number of new virus cases decline as the disease spreads across the rest of the world. On Wednesday, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic.
The world’s second-largest economy, where the virus is strongly believed to have originated, has been battling the outbreak for several weeks. They have taken wide-ranging measures including locking down the city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, as well as closing down schools and businesses. The Lunar New Year holiday, which occurred at the end of January, was extended for more than a week throughout the nation.
Businesses have yet to fully open, while many people are still working from home.
China is already a huge market for food deliveries. But with large swathes of the population stuck at home over the past few weeks deliveries have become even more important for people trying to get their groceries and food. Some bars were even delivering their happy hour drinks to customers.
Meituan said it will provide its protective covers to medical staff in Wuhan for free. It also announced that it has applied for two national patents for the folding shield.
China’s on-demand services have introduced ways to help protect users from catching the new coronavirus. DiDi, the biggest ride-hailing app in China, began installing protective sheets in cars to separate passengers from drivers.