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Our Guide to Staying Safe When Ordering Takeout During a Pandemic


Because of the Coronavirus (Covid-19), many places have implemented strict, shelter in place orders. Only necessary businesses are allowed to remain open. Restaurant dining rooms have closed. That leaves delivery as one of your only options. How can you get food delivered while still maintaining social distance and hygiene protocols? Is this something you should be doing at all?

Follow Government Advice

Government experts, including the White House and CDC, have urged the public to avoid gathering in crowds. They’ve also advised people to maintain a six feet distance. The idea behind this is to slow the transmission of the Coronavirus, and ensure that hospitals don’t become overwhelmed. Several state and local governments have added recommendations and restrictions on top of that.


Fortunately, as things are right now, you can order delivery as long as you follow some basic precautions. There is no direct association with food and COVID-19, according to the FDA. However, you should also continue to keep up with the news so that you are aware of any new recommendations. The World Health Organization and other agencies provide regular updates on Covid-19.

Wash Your Hands Before You Eat

Any time you interact with other people, cough or sneeze, touch your face, or come in contact with something that could be contaminated, you should wash your hands. Ideally, you should do this with soap, for at least 20 seconds, and wash all the way up your elbows. You should also use clean running water. If you don’t have access to soap, use an alcohol based hand sanitizer. If you order food for delivery. Wash your hands after bringing your food inside and unpacking it.


If you can, avoid contaminating your hands immediately after washing them. Use a tissue or paper towel to turn off water, and open bathroom doors. You can also use the sleeve of your shirt if nothing else is available. Finally, avoid shaking hands.

Leave a Note For Your Driver And Minimize Contact

Many restaurants are offering no contact delivery options. With these, the delivery driver will drop the food off at a prearranged location, usually your front porch. They may send you a text that your food has been delivered. In other cases, the driver may knock on your door, then step back a safe distance as you retrieve your food. Some restaurants and delivery apps like Instacart may have a contactless delivery option when you place your order. Otherwise, you may have to request this by leaving your delivery driver a note. Look for a space for special instructions or notes when you place your order. Simply type your request there.


To further minimize contact, consider ordering food during off-peak hours. During these times it’s possible that fewer employees will be working. This may minimize the number of people who come in contact with your food and food containers. Also, check out the restaurant website. Many have published the steps they are taking to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Only order from restaurants that ensure safe practices.


If you must have direct contact with your driver, minimize exposure for both of you. Pay and tip online if possible. Wear gloves and a mask to receive food if you have them and wash your hands before and after.

Don’t Share

Many of us are accustomed to sharing food when we order delivery. Unfortunately, this communal approach can spread the virus. Follow these practices to prevent this.


  • One person should retrieve the food, and immediately throw away all external packaging.
  • Sanitize surfaces, and wipe down outsides of containers, if possible.
  • Everyone must wash their hands before getting food.
  • Avoid eating out of communal bowls and boxes.
  • Serve food onto individual bowls and plates.
  • Ensure everyone has their own utensils


Anyone going back for seconds should wash their hands before they do.


Another way to avoid issues with sharing is to place orders for individual servings. For example, instead of ordering a family size pizza to share, consider ordering several small pizzas. You can also order several individual meals. This may prevent issues created with people touching communal serving containers.

Tip Your Driver and Give a High Rating

Even in the best of times, you should tip your delivery at least $5. Keep in mind that drivers rarely receive any delivery fees you may have paid as part of your bill as these usually go to the restaurant. They rely on tips, even in the best of times.


Now, add Covid-19 to the mix. Your driver puts themselves at risk for increased exposure by going to work and delivering your food. They also help you maintain social distancing by allowing you to stay home. Please consider doubling or tripling what you would normally tip.


In addition to this, consider taking time to leave positive reviews and ratings for your drivers. If your driver works for a third party service such as Uber Eats, your good reviews help them to get more work. Restaurants also use customer ratings during performance evaluations.


Finally, be a little patient. Restaurants are inundated with orders for delivery. Many are short-staffed. It may take a bit longer to get your food so plan your orders accordingly.

Stay Safe and Support Restaurants

Restaurants, especially locally owned places, are really struggling right now. Many have had to lay off waitstaff or reduce hours. By ordering delivery and following safety protocols you help them stay afloat.


There are other things you can do as well. Consider ordering gift cards for your favorite restaurants. You’ll help them maintain some revenue and enjoy a meal after the shelter at home orders have passed. The same is true for restaurant merchandise. Finally, there are many efforts in place to ensure that restaurant owners and their employees are protected. Consider donating to charities that provide assistance to displaced workers or contacting your representative to encourage them to take action.