If you’re staying home more often as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, you might be wondering: Can I still order food or grocery delivery? And is it safe?
The answer, for now, is yes: Food and grocery delivery services such as DoorDash, Postmates, Grubhub, Uber Eats, and Instacart are still up and running.
There is currently no evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted through food or food packaging, according to the CDC and the FDA, though germs are known to live on surfaces for up to nine days. That means you also don’t have to worry too much about a sick chef transmitting the new coronavirus to you via your food, according to an epidemiologist. This is particularly true for cooked foods. If you ordered something cold, like a salad, and the chef sneezed on it, there might be some risk. But if food is handled properly, there should be very little chance of an issue.
The bigger potential problem is transmitting the coronavirus from delivery person to customer, or vice versa, through coughing, vaporized air particles or another direct contact.
In response, many food delivery services are moving to contactless drop-offs or encouraging customers to take advantage of drop-off instructions to minimize the chance of spreading the virus. Earlier in March, food delivery service Postmates introduced a feature called Dropoff Options, giving customers the ability to choose to either meet their delivery driver at the door, curbside, or go non-contact and have deliveries left at the door. This week, DoorDash made contactless delivery the default choice, and Yelp added a contact-free delivery option. Grocery delivery service Instacart launched a Leave at My Door Delivery option across the US. Uber Eats has also waived delivery fees in the US and Canada during the pandemic.
Here are three tips for safely ordering food or grocery delivery, if you’re sick, quarantined or just staying in to try to stay healthy.
Leave delivery instructions
Whenever you order take-out or groceries online, you’ll see an empty field titled “delivery instructions.” Normally, you might use this to provide a gate code, but now, you can ask drivers to drop off food at the door or send a photo of where the food should be left. Customers can often also contact their driver directly through the apps to make any delivery arrangements, as soon as the driver accepts the order.
You can keep up to date on what your preferred delivery app or service is doing to mitigate infection on their websites. For example, DoorDash is distributing hand sanitizer and gloves to drivers, and is working with restaurants to share some best practices for handling food at this time, like taping over ends of straws, a spokesperson said.
Grubhub provided drivers and restaurants with the CDC’s recommendations for best hygiene and appropriate precautions for interacting with others, a spokesperson told CNET. Uber Eats is also giving drivers car disinfectant, prioritizing “cities with the greatest need,” according to its website.