Cities like Shanghai and Shenzhen are offering free drinks, snacks to outdoor workers. (Representational)
Chinese shopping malls have come up with a novel way of rewarding workers who had to carry out their duties outdoors during the coronavirus outbreak: free drinks and snacks.
"Unmanned" freezers have popped up in cities including Shanghai and Shenzhen offering free drinks, snacks and lunches donated by nearby eateries, supermarkets and the public, the Xinhua news agency reported.
"Thank you for your hard work! We will win the battle against the epidemic!" read a message board beside one freezer that invites couriers, sanitation workers, police officers and volunteers to its full inventory of beverages in Shenzhen, south China's Guangdong Province.
Millions in China have followed instructions to stay indoors these past few months to minimise infection risks, leading to a surging workload for couriers delivering daily necessities and take-outs. Other outdoors workers including cleaners have been praised for taking greater risks to maintain cities' operations.
"We wish to express our gratitude to these hard-working people," said Li Wenkai, a spokesperson of COCO Park, a shopping mall in Shenzhen's Futian District that has an unmanned freezer outside its gate.
Similar freezers, accompanied by message boards of thankyou notes, were also seen outside another emporium in Shenzhen and some office buildings in east China's Shanghai.
Li Wenkai said the mall and its nine shops in late February donated 10,000 yuan (around $1,432) worth of drinks and snacks as the first batch of goods to fill the freezer, whose supplies have been supported by public donations since then.
"I brought my daughter along to help donate goods, which I hope will make her feel more connected to the city," said a resident named Huang, who filled the freezer with 10 boxed meals.
Besides the freezer hangs another envelope that offers free masks, which have been in tight supply since the outbreak, to sanitation workers.
Many couriers were surprised and touched by the act of kindness. "It cools my throat but warms my heart," said a courier who took a bottle of water from the freezer.