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Is Food Delivery Safe in a Pandemic? Officials Say Yes

Companies are adopting new practices to avoid transmission.

A food delivery man crosses the street in Times Square in Manhattan on March 17.

A food delivery man crosses the street in Times Square in Manhattan on March 17.

Photographer: JohannesEisele/AFP

Food delivery continues to be a rare bright spot in harrowing economic times. Orders last week at grocery delivery service Instacart Inc. were up more than 150% compared with the same period a year earlier, according to a source close to the company who asked not to be named discussing private business details. In China, when Covid-19 was bearing down hardest, Beijing Missfresh Ecommerce Co, another grocery delivery service, saw revenue grow 205% compared to a year earlier, one of its investors said.

The spike in demand is visible across the board. Pizza delivery companies are putting up job postings. Uber Technologies Inc. is transitioning ride-hailing drivers to its Uber Eats service. Companies like DoorDash Inc. and GrubHub Inc. are slashing or delaying their fees to restaurants in an effort to keep the hot-meals flowing. Matt Maloney, the CEO of GrubHub, said his company is receiving more new registrations from restaurants than it can process.