China’s ‘Zero COVID’ Measures Are Taking a Toll on Gig Workers

A delivery driver wearing a face mask to protect against the coronavirus waits at an intersection in Beijing, Nov. 26, 2020 (AP photo by Mark Schiefelbein).
A delivery driver wearing a face mask to protect against the coronavirus waits at an intersection in Beijing, Nov. 26, 2020 (AP photo by Mark Schiefelbein).

For millions of Chinese citizens, delivery drivers have been key to surviving Beijing’s “zero COVID” coronavirus strategy. Amid rolling lockdowns and travel restrictions, e-commerce couriers have served as lifelines to communities under confinement, from massive cities like Shanghai and Chengdu to smaller provinces like Shenyang, all of which have implemented the strict isolation measures mandated under Beijing’s strict pandemic response. Under these conditions, in which leaving one’s residence for reasons unrelated to getting tested is impossible, access to food and other daily essentials has been scarce. Enter the gig worker. Delivery drivers, by and large, work under contract with courier […]

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