Shanghai has been under strict rules for seven weeks, with residents unable to leave their homes until the end of the month.
Authorities relaxed these rules for half of the city’s residents at the end of April, but millions remain under restrictions which mean they are confined to their homes, leaving delivery drivers in high demand, as locals would have faces shortages of food and medicine delivered by the government.
The impact on food delivery drivers meant many had to sleep rough as they had to choose between staying home and receiving no income, or going to work and not being able to return home, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Many drivers are sleeping on the streets with blankets or tents, The Journal reported.
The Shanghai-based point of sale Sixth tone reported that many drivers live in “disastrous conditions” as they have been stranded from their homes and sleep on the streets, under bridges or in cars instead.
A driver told the Journal that the compound where he lives would not let him out for three weeks in early April, and when he returned to work he began living below decks as he needed income.
Another delivery driver told the Journal he lived below deck with more than 30 other people, most of whom were also delivery drivers.
A runner who asked to be identified only by his last name, Wang, said he arrived in Shanghai on March 5 after delivering food to another city, hoping to earn more money in the financial center.
A driver who said he became homeless because his complex wouldn’t let him go home told the BBC“I do deliveries all day, then when it gets close to midnight, I look for a place to sleep.”
Shanghai is moving to an even stricter COVID-19 lockdown this week, with The New York Times reporting that food deliveries have been suspended in parts of the city.
The government has granted delivery drivers exemptions to its rule banning people from going outside, but some buildings and residential compounds have barred them from returning home for fear of spreading the virus, The Journal reported.
The Shanghai government said it is now giving more support to delivery drivers, The Journal reported.
China has pursued a zero-COVID strategy since the start of the pandemic, often locking down entire cities on a few cases in an attempt to stop its spread.