Is It Safe To Eat Fast Food During The Pandemic – As food companies navigate a changing delivery landscape due to the coronavirus outbreak, they’ve been responding with tweaks to make customers feel safer. Those who are used to simply grabbing their box of pizza or bag of takeout may see some changes in the coming days and weeks to combat the spread of the COVID-19.
Every company will handle things a bit differently, but if you’re confused by terms like “contactless” and “tamper-proof,” we broke down what exactly what they mean—and what you can expect—below.
But first, a quick disclaimer: Experts believe that coronavirus is spread from person to person through coughing, sneezing, or breathing out within a few feet of someone else. They don’t have reason to believe that it is spread directly via food consumption, but of course, do what makes you feel most comfortable.
First up, contactless and non-contact delivery
Contactless delivery generally means that those ordering food or other supplies can get them delivered without coming face-to-face with their delivery driver. For example, Postmates announced last week that customers would have the option to have drivers bring deliveries to their doors as normal, to meet them curbside, or to have deliveries left at the door.
Grocery delivery service Instacart also implemented a “Leave at My Door Delivery” option that it had been beta-testing for those who wanted groceries left when they may not be home to retrieve them. In light of the virus outbreak, it was made available to all customers who use the service, according to Eater.
Doordash customers can text a photo of where they’d like their food to be left while Grubhub and Seamless customers have been encouraged to contact drivers directly with delivery instructions.
Again, this is going to mean something a bit different to every service, so if you do decide to order delivery or pick-up, you should check with the specific service.
What about “tamper-evident” delivery?
Some companies like Chipotle have gone even further, offering a “new, tamper-evident packaging seal to help ensure food is untouched during delivery.” This usually looks like a special seal or sticker and is meant to give customers some piece of mind that nothing has gotten in—or out—since their food was dispatched.
How does this impact delivery workers?
It’s no secret that many of these policies were put in place because of an increased demand for delivery following news of the coronavirus outbreak. But because there is a human being delivering your food (most of whom are contract workers who do not receive health insurance benefits), delivery can put these workers at risk, as well.
While some of these options can protect drivers in addition to customers (for example, drivers who do not come to your door will decrease their risk of coming into contact with someone who could be sick, too), many drivers are understandably still concerned about working during the coronavirus outbreak, and some have stopped working altogether.
Many delivery companies have issued guidelines for workers during the outbreak, as Business Insider pointed out, and many of those same workers have taken additional precautions to keep themselves safe.
Still, if you do opt for delivery during the outbreak, consider using non-contact services, especially if you or someone you’ve come in contact with has been ill. Practice good hand-washing, be kind, and as always, tip well!
Below we’ve listed all of the information we’ve been able to gather about whether fast food locations are open and if there are any changes to their operations. Keep in mind this situation is changing rapidly, and though we will update as much as possible, it’s always best to check with your local stores as individual franchises can vary.
Experts do still believe it’s generally safe to get food delivered (with some precautions, of course), consumers are understandably cautious about going out to eat. In response to this, many of your favorite fast food restaurants have changed their operations or policies.
Additionally, you should also be paying attention to guidelines in your city or state, as many have barred restaurants from operating anything but their delivery services.
Arby’s locations are now dine-out only. You can read more about it here.
Burger King issued a statement to Delish, which read, in part:
In places where required, we will be moving to drive-thru and delivery/takeout only operations and complying with public health guidelines and recommendations. The health and safety of our guests and team members is our top priority.
We have enhanced our already strict food safety and sanitation practices in our restaurants and are well positioned to operate safely during this challenging time for our nation and do our part to flatten the curve.
Chick-fil-A announced a temporary closure of its dining rooms to help limit person-to-person contact. Your local Chick-fil-A will offer service through its drive-thru, and depending on its location may also offer takeout, delivery, or mobile order options.
Chipotle locations are now to-go only an the chain is also offering free delivery through the end of March and introduced “tamper-evident packaging.” It did not specifically cite coronavirus as its reasoning for doing so.
Chuck E. Cheese
Chuck E. Cheese closed its dining and game rooms but its offering online and phone carry-out, as well as delivery through Grubhub, DoorDash, and Uber Eats.
The ice cream chain postponed its free cone day in light of the outbreak but its locations remain open.
The chain is offering contactless delivery options as well as expanded paid leave and increased cleaning. You can read more about it here.
Dunkin’ locations will be limiting their hours and going to-go only. Customers can still get drive-thru and/or carry-out-only service, as well as delivery where it is available. You can read about it here.
Locations are to-go only.
KFC’s locations are now to-go only. The chain is also offering free delivery and tamper-evident seals on bags.
Company-owned locations are closing their dining rooms and implementing a to-go model. Self-service kiosks will be closed as well and customers are encouraged to use the drive-thru and delivery services, as well order take-out. McDonald’s is encouraging its franchisees to do the same. You can read more about it here.
Some locations will be closing their dining rooms and offering pick-up as an alternative to delivery. They are also offering free delivery on all orders, of $10 or more, purchased through the Moe’s app and website from now until April 10, in addition to other offers.
Noodles & Company
The chain transitioned to pick-up or carryout only and temporarily closed dining rooms at all restaurants. Each store will close at 8 p.m. as well.
Panera is now to-go only and can be ordered for pick-up, delivery, or drive-thru where available. The chain will also be offering contactless delivery and to-go bags for all orders will be sealed shut.
Popeyes waived its delivery fees (though it did not mention coronavirus as a reason) and has increased its cleaning. It is also offering no-contact pick-up, drive-thru, and delivery.
The chain is temporarily to-go only and has implemented limited-contact ordering.
The burger chain will temporarily switch to a to-go only model in all of its U.S. locations.
Sonic locations are now dine-out only.
Starbucks announced it will be temporarily making all of its U.S. and Canadian stores to-go only. There will be no inside or outside seating. Some locations could be temporarily closed in areas of high coronavirus impact. You can read more about it here.
Subway locations are open for to-go orders.
Company-owned Taco Bell locations are carry-out and/or drive-thru only, depending on their location. Many locations will be operating on reduced hours, and some will temporarily stop serving breakfast.
The chain’s company-owned locations are now to-go only and it is encouraging its franchisees to do the same. This means you can order at the counter, as well as through delivery, and go through the drive-thru where that is permitted, but dining rooms will be closed.
Will be offering unlimited pizza to employees and their immediate families for the next 30 days, raise the hourly wage by $1 for all shop-level staff, expanding its sick leave policy, offering free pizza to hospital workers, among other things. You can read more about it here.