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Local delivery services are ramping up for another lockdown

COVID-19 continues to drive market for HRM-based delivery services

2 min read
caption HaliHub delivery driver dropping off Studio East takeout.
Talia Meade

With COVID-19 cases on the rise again, food delivery services in Halifax are anticipating a busy winter.

Saturday saw the largest single-day rise in cases since May. As of Wednesday, there were 24 active cases in Nova Scotia. Premier Stephen McNeil suggested another lockdown was possible if the virus continued to spread in the community.

Over the past few days since cases began to rise, Couryah, a local food and grocery delivery service, has seen a spike in sales.

“If there is another situation in the winter I think we’ll be able to be more accessible to a lot more people than we were in May, March and April,” said Basel Halaseh, Couryah’s senior brand manager.

Couryah launched in May 2019, but Halaseh said the pandemic made them a household name in Halifax.

“Once the pandemic hit, we obviously saw an explosion,” he said.

Couryah went from having two or three drivers to almost 15. Halaseh aims to have 10,000 products available by the end of the year, 7,000 more than before the pandemic. On Sunday, Couryah announced more delivery locations to homes off the Halifax peninsula.

HaliHub co-owner Brian MacDonald suspects his business will pick up as COVID-19 cases begin to rise.

MacDonald said, “Over the past couple of weeks we’ve just exploded.”

MacDonald previously worked in the food industry for Sysco. He and his co-owner, Bill Pratt, launched HaliHub in July. When restaurants began shutting down in March, he worried about how to make payroll and get food out to customers.

“It’s not even about profit anymore, it’s about survival,” MacDonald said.

Keeping the money local

For many restaurants, surviving the pandemic means relying on takeout and delivery. MacDonald didn’t want to use a big delivery service like Skip the Dishes. He said another big company, Uber Eats, takes a cut of up to 30 per cent from the sale, while HaliHub takes nine per cent.

“We wanted to keep the money local,” MacDonald said.

Studio East uses big-name delivery services and HaliHub. André Pratt, one of the owners of the Halifax restaurant, said if Studio East has to shut down again, he hopes Uber Eats and other major delivery companies make the sacrifices that restaurants have been making and take a smaller chunk of the sale.

“They’re almost gouging restaurants and people don’t even know it,” Pratt said.

Pratt said any sale is a good sale, but in hard times like this, restaurants want people to know there are other options for food service.

“It’s not just us struggling, it’s not just us that needs help. It’s our delivery services, it’s our restaurant neighbours, it’s the whole city. It’s the whole province.”

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About the author

Talia Meade

Student journalist from Ottawa. Interested in videography, creative nonfiction and politics.

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