How to Protect Delivery Workers from COVID-19

Delivery workers are some of the precious few who have been classified as “essential employees” who still go to work during the COVID-19 pandemic. This means they risk infection to get people’s groceries to their door so that everyone else can safely stay inside. However, because they come into contact with so many people and spend time in restaurants and grocery stores picking up orders, they need to take certain measures to stay healthy—not just for our sake, but for their own as well.

How can we all help these brave workers stay safe from COVID-19?

1. Use contactless delivery

Now, plenty of third party delivery apps offer an option for contactless delivery. Drivers just leave packages by the door and text, call or notify the customer through the app that they’ve dropped off the order. This ensures customers still get their orders on time and as delicious as they would normally arrive, but reduces human contact so that neither party has to break the six foot guideline for social distancing.

If the online ordering interface doesn’t offer an option for this service and the customer doesn’t specially request it, drivers can still proactively reach out and ask. If you operate a restaurant or delivery service, consider adding contactless delivery as an option.

2. Take precautionary measures

Although people can’t reasonably wash their hands after every delivery, it wouldn’t hurt to keep a bottle of hand sanitizer or pack of antibacterial wipes in the car. Even if delivery workers don’t use them every time they get in the car, they’ll still have a back up in case they come into contact with someone they suspect might be sick or after leaving a busy location.

Business owners can support this initiative by supplying their workers with gloves, masks, sanitizer or wipes while they’re working to help keep everybody safe.

3. Paid sick leave and better wages

Unfortunately, many essential workers are our most overworked and lowest paid. They can’t afford to take a sick day or self-isolate and risk losing their job, so many of these workers—not just drivers, but people like grocery clerks who they might come in contact with as well—go to work even when they don’t feel well. Although this issue has existed long before this pandemic, the potential of someone spreading COVID-19 to kitchen staff, grocery stores, and the doors of everyone they deliver to presents a major health risk.

If these workers had a better safety net, they wouldn’t need to choose between staying healthy and paying their bills. While some third party services like Uber Eats have waived fees for customers, they can also help out delivery workers by affording them better pay, better benefits and paid sick leave so they don’t feel obligated to come to work while ill.

Right now, we all rely on essential employees so we can get necessities without breaking isolation precautions. If we all work together to make sure these workers stay healthy, the risk of the disease spreading will remain low and we can continue to flatten the curve on COVID-19.

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