Coronavirus spurs food delivery companies to implement no-contact option and other changes

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with comments from Grubhub and additional policy changes from UberEats. 

Food service delivery companies are among the latest business sectors to address the effect of the coronavirus outbreak. National online and mobile food-ordering and delivery services that operate in Atlanta, including Postmates, UberEats and DoorDash, have implemented numerous strategies to protect the health and safety of the communities in which they operate.

On March 6, San Francisco-based Postmates introduced a non-contact delivery option. Customers can now choose whether to meet the fleet driver at the door, curbside or have the delivery left at the door. Customers select the delivery preference upon checkout. Postmates operates in 4,200 U.S. cities and provides access to over half a million merchants.

» COMPLETE COVERAGE: Coronavirus in Georgia

DoorDash has taken similar steps. “To reduce the risk of transmission, we are reminding our community in affected areas of the delivery instruction feature, enabling requests for food to be left at the door along with a photo of where the food should be left through the app — and we are testing enhanced features for contactless delivery to be rolled out shortly. We are also preparing to distribute much-needed supplies to Dashers in affected areas,” said a DoorDash spokesperson.

Uber Eats, Uber’s online food ordering and delivery platform, also enables its customers to leave a note in the Uber Eats app to request that deliveries be left at the door.

Uber Eats is also attempting to prevent the spread of the virus by distributing disinfectants to drivers. In a statement issued Wednesday, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi stated that “supplies are very limited, but we’re partnering with manufacturers and distributors to source as much as possible. We’ll be prioritizing distribution to drivers in cities with the greatest need.”

When asked whether Atlanta was among the cities prioritized for disinfectant distribution, an Uber spokesperson said that company is “still working through the details of the sanitizer distribution.”

Khosrowshahi also stated that the company will provide financial assistance to drivers and delivery persons who are diagnosed with COVID-19 or are individually asked to self-isolate by a public health authority. Individuals in these situations will receive compensation for a period of up to 14 days while the person’s account is on hold. “We’ve already helped drivers in some affected areas, and we’re working to quickly implement this worldwide,” Khosrowshahi said in the statement.

On March 16, Uber announced that it would change policies further to increase demand for restaurant delivery by waiving its delivery fee. Restaurants will also have the option to opt-in to daily payouts from UberEats, rather than the typical weekly payouts.

On Tuesday, Postmates announced it was offering additional resources for both its couriers and merchants. It created a fund that will credit Postmates couriers for the cost of doctor appointments and medical expenses related to COVID-19’s impact. According to a company statement, “The Postmates Relief Fund will enable couriers to take proactive and preventive personal health care steps by covering costs for medical checkups, regardless of whether the courier has been diagnosed or quarantined.”

In addition, the on-demand food delivery platform unveiled a pilot program in which it is waiving all commission fees for businesses that operate in San Francisco that are not currently offering delivery on the platform, but want to expand into on-demand delivery. Postmates will monitor other cities to potentially increase the scope of the pilot program beyond San Francisco.

A spokesperson from national food delivery service Grubhub provided the following statement regarding the company’s coronavirus action plan: “Grubhub’s number one priority is and continues to be the health and safety of diners, drivers and restaurant partners. We’ve provided drivers and restaurants with the CDC’s recommendations that focus on good hygiene and using all appropriate precautions when interacting with others. For increased safety, diners can use the Ordering Instructions box in the checkout section of our platform to personalize how they want their food delivered or they can contact their driver directly through the Grubhub app to discuss delivery arrangements as soon as a driver accepts the order. We’re also working on ways to make it even easier for diners to access and leave special requests and instructions for drivers.”

Atlanta-based food delivery business Zifty did not respond to a request for comment regarding operational changes due to the coronavirus outbreak.


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