COVID-19: Food delivery is an essential service, but is it safe?

The COVID-19 scenario has given e-commerce platforms the boost that they needed. People are avoiding going to the markets to buy their groceries and are practicing social distancing. It is no wonder that online grocery shopping is fast, efficient, and convenient, so it has become an essential service for the residents. 

Doorstep delivery by startups has ensured that people don’t need to step out of the house to buy supplies. The South African government imposed some of the strictest lockdowns, which is why food delivery services were quick to gain popularity. Understandably, people are concerned about the safety of food deliveries. Whether or not they should be ordering food or groceries from outside is a question that has left everyone in a dilemma. In this article, we’ll decode how safe it is to order food online.

The fast spread of the virus has put our lives on a halt and has affected several communities and businesses of a countless number of people. Startups and residents are trying to curb the spread of the virus by following physical distancing and wearing protective equipment. Online grocery shopping seems like the knight in shining armor during these times. If individuals keep safety measures in mind, they can quickly get their essential items from e-commerce platforms. The pandemic would have left millions of Africans struggling to have access to necessary supplies, had these services not been available. 

Online Payments: No Human-To-Human Interaction

While most grocery stores and shops are closed, individuals are happy to find these same shops go online. The Motley Fool claims that the sales of the popular e-commerce website, Amazon have gone up by 29%. Online shopping can help minimize the spread of the virus. Several sites have already discontinued cash payments, requiring customers to pay for their orders online through various payment methods. By replacing traditional modes of payment, startups ensure the personal safety of delivery agents and customers while reducing the chances of transmitting the virus.  Public health organizations are making recommendations and issuing guidelines to businesses to ensure the optimal protection of the staff and customers.

Offline grocery stores, eateries, cafes, and supermarkets, among other public areas are potential breeding grounds for the coronavirus. The high-risk factor coupled with the need for essential items like food, medicines, healthcare supplies, etc. have made online shopping the ideal choice for people. Several online payment options are available for consumers. 

No Contact is Essential!

Keeping the current scenario in mind, Jumia, which is the largest e-commerce website in Africa, has a contactless delivery policy. In such cases, the delivery agent usually places the order on the customer’s doorstep. This keeps the customers, delivery agents, and retailers safe from the spread of the virus. 

On the other hand, Nedbank has also launched its app by the name of ‘Avo.’ The company claims that the app will be a place where consumers can access all sorts of services and indulge in shopping. Given the current scenario, it provides consumers with a virtual e-commerce platform where they can purchase essential items and make secure payments easily through the app. Before the lockdown was imposed, people had to line up in queues to visit stores and it was really inconvenient for them.

Likewise, other platforms across the country provide customers with reliable services by offering them items without physical contact and cash exchange. As instructed by authorities, delivery agents call the customer beforehand or drop them a text. They then place the package on their doorstep and wait for the customer to receive it while standing a safe distance away. Strict hygiene practices are ensured, and companies check the overall health of the employees every day. 

Benjamin Chapman, who teaches at North Carolina State University, believes that food packaging hasn’t been identified as a potential transmitter of the virus until now. So, the chances of contracting the virus through food remain low. Consumers can lower the risks by using a sanitizer and washing their hands often. This may help to break the progression of the coronavirus. 

These food delivery services by startups are safe and secure since packages are usually sanitized, and strict hygiene measures are in place. These online websites and applications allow people who live in remote areas of the country to order items directly without going out. They have become an ideal alternative and a reliable means of buying essentials. They allow sellers and vendors to have a broader audience while reducing physical contact. The contactless delivery option is the perfect measure, which would have otherwise left people around the globe without a source of income. 

Likewise, local bus firms in Leicester have been equipped with measures to accept online payments. Soon passengers will be able to travel to and from the place without having to pay cash. It is a necessary and crucial measure that will keep passengers and other staff safe. While eateries are still open in the UK and other neighboring countries, customers aren’t allowed to dine in. Takeaway facilities are available. 

The staff in restaurants and eateries ensure to practice hygiene in the workplace and wear protective gear to keep themselves safe and avoid coming in contact with the food items. The delivery agents are instructed to practice hygiene and wear protective equipment. They are trained and made aware by authorities regarding the protocols and measures set by the World Health Organization. Some restaurants have hand sanitizing stations where delivery agents can sanitize their hands before and after delivery. If the food handler follows proper precautions and safety measures, and the exposure is kept to a minimum, online food ordering can be a safe option.  

Things To Keep In Mind

Contactless food delivery doesn’t pose the risks that other interactions do; however, it must be ensured that the food handler and delivery agent are healthy and follow safety precautions. 

If you choose to make payments by a card, make sure to wipe it with alcohol before and after use. Takeaways and cooked meals can be reheated before consumption. Additionally, washing raw vegetables and fruits and sanitizing packets and cans to ensure that they are clean and hygienic is recommended. Always maintain a safe distance while receiving a package, and be sure to check if the delivery agent is wearing proper protective gear. You must order groceries and food from places that are familiar to you. Packaged foods might be safe, but it is still better to sanitize them.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.