Coronavirus: Is It Safe to Order Food From Delivery Services During Pandemic?

In an attempt to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus outbreak, many across the world are now being advised to stay indoors and minimize human contact as a way to "flatten the curve" through isolation. With challenges arising in getting food following states and cities facing restrictions or closures as dine-in options are no longer a safe or responsible option, many are looking toward food delivery services for help in eating healthy. But while many are staying home indefinitely now, is ordering food via services like Uber Eats, Postmates, Door Dash, etc., all safe options?

According to Global News in Canada, it is very safe to order food from these North American services that have publicly ensured quality safety and precautionary measures during the pandemic. Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. Food and Drug Administration, there is very little evidence in the coronavirus being transmitted through food or food packaging.

"Yes, it's safe to order food," Dr. Jeff Kwong, a scientist and associate director for the Centre for Vaccine Preventable Diseases at the University of Toronto, said. "Food delivery staff should be sure to wash hands frequently to minimize the chance of getting infected by COVID or passing on COVID."

He adds that contactless deliver though is "even better."

Per The Verge, several U.S. apps have created options to help minimize any in-person contact and ease anxieties over contracting the coronavirus, including Instacart, which has rolled out a "Leave at My Door Delivery" option, while Postmates has offered no-contact deliveries and GrubHub features a contact-free delivery option that allows the customer to designate where food should be left.

If the restaurant, takeout place or local joint of your choice does not offer any such services, you can always request to have your food left on a doorstep, lobby or elsewhere per delivery instructions provided via telephone or website. If you are still nervous of ordering take-out, call ahead and ask what the policy is of sick employees, and measures being taken to reduce COVID-19 transmission. Most companies are making sure sick employees do not come to work at all, so they can help communities practicing self-isolation.

Once you get your meal via any of the food delivery services, ensure you discard the packaging takeout comes in and wash your hands immediately, per advisories by the CDC. It is also a good rule of practice to avoid using containers or utensils the food came in, and use your own items. Additionally, disinfect your countertops and tables before and after eating.

And lastly, if possible, tip well — either via electronically, online, in an app or over the phone. A lot of delivery workers will be vulnerable to the virus as they rely on this kind of service for their livelihood. Try to avoid tipping with cash as a way to avoid contact with them.

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Good news for consumers in light of growing coronavirus concerns, Uber Eats is waiving delivery fee for independent restaurants across the United States and Canada. They are the latest service to suspend commission from restaurants hit by the outbreak per Reuters, following in the footsteps of GrubHub, Postmates and Takeaway.com

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