Are food delivery services like Instacart of DoorDash safe?
Deliverers themselves are much more likely to be exposed because of all the people they encounter. Morse said the risk can be reduced for both parties if recipients ask that food be left outside the door—or, ideally, if restaurants mandate this practice to protect their employees. Customers can also tip electronically or place cash outside before the delivery arrives.
The places people order from make a difference too. A local restaurant is a better choice than a start-up that sends gig workers with no health-care benefits into crowded big-box grocery stores to fight over dried beans on your behalf. The restaurant delivery person interacts with fewer people, lessening his or her individual risk, and the money you pay for the food goes toward keeping a restaurant’s staff employed through a crisis. In Wuhan, local delivery drivers were the city’s lifeline during a lockdown that made venturing out for fresh food difficult.
Ditching delivery to go to the grocery store isn’t necessarily a safer way to stress-eat, for either individuals or service workers. “Crowded stores would have a greater risk of infection, simply because of numbers of people and density,” Morse, the epidemiologist, explained. Shoppers can avoid some of this risk by dropping in at odd hours or patronizing less popular stores. But the risk of exposure is still far greater for people ringing up groceries than for people buying them, just like it is higher for the delivery drivers bringing food to your door than it is for you. (March 29, 2020)