Skip to content
Subscriber Only
Opinion
Lionel Laurent

Pizza Deliverers Are Doubly Exposed to the Coronavirus

A public-health crisis combined with an economic slowdown is not good for “the precariat” of the gig economy

An unfair gig?

An unfair gig?

Photo: Bloomberg

However messy the world gets, the only certainty is that we will still need couriers to deliver pizza. That was the vision of last year’s hit video-game “Death Stranding,” in which an armor-plated delivery man carries packages from bunker to bunker in post-apocalypse America. The current Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak is confirmation of sorts. As people stay cooped up at home in self-quarantine, whether by choice or by force, the occasional guilty pleasure of ordering food has become a lifeline.

On the surface, that might seem like good news for those increasingly in-demand couriers. Orders on food-delivery apps in Hong Kong and South Korea grew at double-digit rates in January and February. But the reality is that in an increasingly global public-health crisis, especially one that is already dealing damage to the economy, it’s the foot soldiers of 21st-century capitalism — Deliveroo riders, Uber drivers, TaskRabbit jobbers, “zero-hours” workers — who look doubly vulnerable.