As food companies navigate a changing delivery landscape due to the coronavirus outbreak, they’ve been responding with tweaks to make customers feel safer. Those who are used to simply grabbing their box of pizza or bag of takeout may see some changes in the coming days and weeks to combat the spread of the COVID-19.
Every company will handle things a bit differently, but if you’re confused by terms like “contactless” and “tamper-proof,” we broke down what exactly what they mean—and what you can expect—below.
But first, a quick disclaimer: Experts believe that coronavirus is spread from person to person through coughing, sneezing, or breathing out within a few feet of someone else. They don’t have reason to believe that it is spread directly via food consumption, but of course, do what makes you feel most comfortable.
First up, contactless and non-contact delivery.
Contactless delivery generally means that those ordering food or other supplies can get them delivered without coming face-to-face with their delivery driver. For example, Postmates announced last week that customers would have the option to have drivers bring deliveries to their doors as normal, to meet them curbside, or to have deliveries left at the door.
Grocery delivery service Instacart also implemented a “Leave at My Door Delivery” option that it had been beta-testing for those who wanted groceries left when they may not be home to retrieve them. In light of the virus outbreak, it was made available to all customers who use the service, according to Eater.
Doordash customers can text a photo of where they’d like their food to be left while Grubhub and Seamless customers have been encouraged to contact drivers directly with delivery instructions.
Again, this is going to mean something a bit different to every service, so if you do decide to order delivery or pick-up, you should check with the specific service.
What about “tamper-evident” delivery?
Some companies like Chipotle have gone even further, offering a “new, tamper-evident packaging seal to help ensure food is untouched during delivery.” This usually looks like a special seal or sticker and is meant to give customers some piece of mind that nothing has gotten in—or out—since their food was dispatched.
As of the time this story was published, Chipotle appears to be the only major national chain doing this at the moment, but some local businesses have adopted this option as well.
How does this impact delivery workers?
It’s no secret that many of these policies were put in place because of an increased demand for delivery following news of the coronavirus outbreak. But because there is a human being delivering your food (most of whom are contract workers who do not receive health insurance benefits), delivery can put these workers at risk, as well.
While some of these options can protect drivers in addition to customers (for example, drivers who do not come to your door will decrease their risk of coming into contact with someone who could be sick, too), many drivers are understandably still concerned about working during the coronavirus outbreak, and some have stopped working altogether.
Many delivery companies have issued guidelines for workers during the outbreak, as Business Insider pointed out, and many of those same workers have taken additional precautions to keep themselves safe.
Still, if you do opt for delivery during the outbreak, consider using non-contact services, especially if you or someone you’ve come in contact with has been ill. Practice good hand-washing, be kind, and as always, tip well!