Your Questions About Life Under Coronavirus, Answered.

It’s a complicated question, right? Officials are telling us to stay indoors and away from others. At the same time, you need food or, as importantly, medicine. But what about the health of the delivery workers who come to your door? How do we keep each other safe?

For older Americans and those with health problems who are most at risk if they contract the coronavirus, having goods delivered makes sense. Some companies, like Postmates and Instacart, have begun offering non-contact or curbside deliveries. European companies are doing it, too.

Those services have a large network in place, though, which means their businesses are likely to thrive. Smaller retailers will not as Americans eschew restaurants, bars and specialty stores. That is why some restaurants are promoting delivery services as a way to stay in business, and why some cities that have ordered restaurants and bars to close have made exceptions for places providing delivery and takeout.

But what about delivery workers? Some groups, like Gig Workers Rising, are demanding that employers like Doordash and Instacart do more to protect them on the job. Recently, the group started a petition asking companies to provide paid time off to drivers who become sick during the coronavirus outbreak and cannot work.

The bottom line is this: Online deliveries are a boon for those who cannot leave their homes, as well as small restaurants who fear going out of business. But at the same time it comes with a risk to drivers and delivery workers who fear the loss of income if they get sick. At a minimum, everyone should generously tip their drivers for the service.

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