Our Guide to Delivering Takeout and Groceries Safely
If there is one type of business that’s experiencing a boom in these uncertain times, it’s the delivery business. With millions of people having to quarantine or opting for self-isolation, the need for food, grocery and everyday essentials delivery is rising every day. It looks like this trend isn’t going to stop any time soon – and even after the pandemic starts to wean, there are some very important personal safety precautions that delivery drivers should continue to keep in mind. Today’s gig economy makes it hard to measure just how many delivery drivers there are in the US. Statistics say that one in ten American workers engage in the gig economy as part of their primary income – so not just as a “gig” anymore, is it? A large number of these gig workers are delivery drivers.
According to the New York Times, as many as one in five Americans will be forced to stay indoors in the coming weeks, and this number is likely to grow as we continue to battle the pandemic. The key to beating the COVID-19 pandemic is sticking to the safety standards for workers put together by OSHA, and available on the official osha.gov website. These are the official guidelines and they are updated as necessary. These pertain to “occupational exposure” – remember that when you work in a gig economy, you are your own most valuable asset, employer, and employee in one.
Hygiene is one of the most important things to keep in mind: the COVID-19 virus spreads through human contact, and people who find themselves at the front lines should follow these guidelines in order to keep themselves and their families safe. Delivery drivers find themselves between two potential sources of germs – their clients, and the stores, restaurants or warehouses where they get their deliverables. We want to help to keep you safe on all fronts.
Wash Your Hands and Keep Good Hygiene
Washing your hands has been proven to work better than using a hand sanitizer only. Why? Let’s talk a little bit about the anatomy of the COVID-19 virus. Most viruses, including the COVID-19, are surrounded by a viral envelope – a kind of a virus “skin”. This protects the virus from outside attacks, your immune system, and makes it possible for it to survive outside the host for extended periods of time.
This virus skin is made of lipids – or fat. Soap is incredibly good at dissolving fat, and not only kills the virus by stripping it of it’s “skin”, but binds to it and washes it away. Hand sanitizer also kills germs and viruses but it doesn’t actually cleanse your hands.. This is why soap and water are your best form of attack.
What to do when you’re in a car and you simply don’t have access to a sink? It’s not a bad idea to have some liquid soap and bottled water with you in your car. While using gloves is an absolute must, taking the time between deliveries in order to carefully wash your hands and rinse them will give you a lot of added protection.
Wearing gloves when handling cash is very important. Money is one of the most dirty things out there – and while using e-wallets or other forms of distance payments is the primary form of payment, some people really want to pay with cash. Thankfully, we’re seeing less and less of that. If you drive for services like DoorDash or GrubHub, you were most likely instructed to leave packages at the door, excluding the possibility of any contact.
While it’s recommended that people who are considered high-risk stay at home, it’s impossible for those of us who have to work making deliveries. The CDC states that people who have a history of respiratory illness and diabetes are considered especially high risk. This is a big wake-up call for those delivery drivers who consider themselves perfectly healthy: some of your customers might not be.
A lot of high-risk people will use delivery services to order not only food, but essential groceries and supplies so they don’t have to leave their home. Be considerate, and avoid close contact with your customers – keep your distance and don’t come closer than the FDA recommended 6 feet if you don’t have to.
In summary, while washing your hands is the most effective way to kill the COVID-19 virus, keeping your distance is also key – if possible, leave your deliveries by the door and step at least 6 feet back when making a drop-off. This helps to protect both you and the people who are sheltering in place. Remember, studies show that one out of four infected people won’t show any symptoms and won’t know that they’re infecting others.
Follow Delivery Instructions
People who are at special risk of contracting the virus and are sheltering in place, or people who are in active quarantine usually leave special delivery instructions in order to minimize contact with any potential virus carrier, or a person they may potentially infect.
Be safe and respectful and read these instructions carefully as they may help to save a life. As stated in the previous section, a lot of food delivery hubs have already put strict rules in place in order to keep both their workers and customers safe.
Most importantly, more and more delivery companies, whether food, grocery or other goods and services, will have contactless delivery options. Staying at least 6 feet away is a key to keeping it safe.
Don’t Overwork and Stay Fit and Healthy
One of the most important parts of keeping healthy is staying mentally and physically fit. Most factors that help to boost your immune system like eating vegetables, getting enough sleep and taking vitamin supplements are most effective when done regularly.
This is a new situation for everyone – it’s changing all the time and it’s full of uncertainty. Humans like for things to be predictable, and we’re mostly creatures of habit. Even if we love adventure – we’d like for it to be on our terms.
There is nothing like a pandemic to throw everything off kilter and take us to the brink of sanity – now is the most important time to be good to ourselves and take it easy. After all, our immune systems depend on it. Although this is probably the toughest time to do so, make sure you:
- Get enough sleep
- Talk to someone
- Get exercise (a lot of home exercise apps have made their services free)
- Eat well
Stay Updated with your app’s Latest Recommendations
If you’re a delivery driver, make sure you stay ahead of the benefits available to you through your app. In this difficult time, Uber and other companies have stepped up to the plate and are helping their affected drivers and couriers.
Grocery delivery services like Postmates and Instacart also have opt-in options like “Leave at My Door Delivery”. They send a real life picture of the groceries to the customer, as proof of delivery. They have great guidelines that can be applied to any other delivery service:
- Check delivery updates frequently in order to pick up your groceries/food as soon as it’s placed by your door.
- Use delivery apps to help out their family or friends in need.
- Use a group cart for making sure everyone in your household gets what they need – perfect for sheltering in place with family or roommates.
These aren’t easy times, but people are built for adversity. We can change our habits, and form new ones. The most important thing is to stay healthy by keeping your hands clean, staying at least 6 feet away from others when possible, and taking care of yourself physically and mentally. We can all do our part to beat this pandemic – no matter which side of the door we stand at when a delivery is made.