SINGAPORE - A Grab office had to abruptly shut down on Wednesday (April 8) after a large number of drivers turned up to collect bags for food delivery, making it difficult to comply with safe distancing measures.
Pictures and videos circulated on social media showed dozens of people crowded around the office at Midview City in Sin Ming Lane, with a few police officers standing at the entrance.
The police said it received a call for assistance at the Grab centre around 11.10am. It said the involved parties were advised to "maintain peace and adhere to safe distancing measures".
"They complied and no further police assistance was required," a police spokesman said.
In a message to drivers on Wednesday afternoon seen by ST, Grab said: "Due to the crowd at our Grab Driver Centre, we regret to inform that the centre is closed to protect your well-being and comply with safe-distancing measures.
"Please do not make your way to the Grab Driver Centre today to prevent overcrowding."
Grab apologised for the inconvenience caused.
In another update later on, Grab said eligible drivers would be able to start delivering food and parcels by the end of the day, even if they had not collected the food delivery bag.
But it urged drivers who have not collected the GrabFood halal bag to use different bags of their own for storing halal and non-halal food separately.
A 47-year-old Grab driver who declined to be named said there were about 300 to 400 people in the queue. She had received a message from Grab that yesterday would be the first day for bag collection. She then arrived at 10.30am and queued for about 1.5 hours before Grab staff told the crowd to disperse.
“Everyone was frustrated because we queued for so long and the weather was so hot,” she said.
“But at least Grab has activated our account so we can now start doing delivery jobs.”
Another driver, Don Ong, 24, arrived at Grab's office around 2pm. He said police was still there then.
"I had to leave the area as it was in a total mess and there was no way we could get the bag," he said.
"I am currently delivering food using my own thermal bags to make sure that the food is hot for all customers."
A Grab spokesman told ST that "many applicants" had turned up at the office to collect food delivery gear on Wednesday, in response to the extended pilot programme that lets private-hire drivers and taxi drivers deliver food and parcels to help meet increased demand for home deliveries.
"Unfortunately, we had to turn a proportion of them away in line with the latest circuit-breaker measures, as well as to ensure the safety of all," said the spokesman.
She was referring to the latest measures enacted to combat the coronavirus outbreak, including temporarily closing non-essential business worksites and requiring businesses that remain open to put safe-distancing measures in place.
The Grab spokesman added: "We would like to take this opportunity to assure our partners that they will be able to apply for an appointment slot to collect their delivery gear soon."
Those wishing to pick up delivery gear can now do so from 10am to 6pm on weekdays, but only after making an appointment.