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FAQ: Is It Safe to Order Outside Food During COVID-19 Lockdown?

At a time when the government has mandated everyone to stay at home, is it ethical to order food from outside?

Updated
F.A.Q
3 min read
At a time when the government has mandated everyone to stay at home, is it ethical to order food from outside?
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Video editor: Purnendu Pritam

The three-week coronavirus lockdown is nearing an end, you have run out of cooking recipes, and you’re now inching towards ordering biryani from your favourite restaurant. But is it safe to do so? Do you risk a chance of infection? By ordering, are you exposing the delivery person to the risk of infection? At a time when the government has mandated everyone to stay at home, is it ethical to order food from outside? Here’s a quick guide.

We are answering all your COVID-19 and lockdown-related questions. You can email us at covid19faqs@thequint.com, and read our FAQs here.

Is it safe to order food deliveries?

Yes, but as long as you use restaurants with “contact-less” options, says the World Health Organisation. Online food delivery apps like Swiggy and Zomato have come up with the concept of “contact-less” delivery, where they ensure that the food is dropped off in a way that minimises contact of the customer with the delivery person.

Food delivery people travel to various houses in a day, and some of the customers could be potentially infected with COVID-19. Especially, if incidences of the infection are high in your locality. So also ensure that food is kept at safe temperatures. (below 5-degree Celsius or above 60-degree Celsius.)

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Food outlets like McDonald's and Domino’s Pizza have also implemented similar policies. Here’s a look:

  • Domino’s Pizza has promised “zero contact delivery” where the delivery person will place the food in front of the customer’s doorstep.
  • If you’re ordering from McDonald’s, you’ll get food which hasn’t been touched by bare hands, according to a statement released by the food chain
  • Swiggy says that it’s training its delivery people on the “proper method and frequency of washing hands.
  • Apart from starting “contact-less” delivery, Zomato has said that it will offer insurance and financial support to delivery people, in case they’re infected with COVID-19.
  • Big Basket has said that it is regularly sanitizing warehouses where its products are stored. You can read more about these initiatives here.

What precautions can I take while ordering food?

According to the World Health Organisation, “food hygiene and good food safety practices” can prevent the transmission of the COVID-19 virus through food. Importantly, WHO also says that “coronaviruses are thermolabile, which means that they are susceptible to normal cooking temperatures (70°C).” Essentially, if you’re ordering cooked food, you don’t need to worry about the transmission of the infection through food.

However, you can take precautions while receiving the food from the delivery person. This could include maintaining a distance, handing out cash in envelopes, or using online payment to minimise human contact.

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Is it ethical to order food?

Good question. Despite all the precautions you and the delivery person take, you are still exposing them to the risk of infection. At a time when most migrant workers in the cities are on the move – some of whom are delivery workers as well – it’s also possible that your favourite restaurant is unable to deliver food. In such a situation, calling the restaurant to check with them, ordering food only in emergencies, and ensuring you’re tipping the delivery person generously, could be some things you could do to help out.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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