It’s a super weird time in the world right now with this coronavirus spreading more and more each day. And while a lot of countries/states have begun to lock down and keep people inside to try and flatten the curve, everyone still needs to eat so I wanted to put together this quick post that outlines just a few ways that you can help keep you and your family healthy, while still supporting your favorite local restaurants as they try to keep their doors open during this crazy time.
Full disclosure, I’m not a doctor.
I do not claim to know if these methods of food handling with actually kill the virus or prevent the spread of the virus, but common sense leads me to believe that they will help minimize your exposure to it, or to someone that may be a carrier or have been in contact with a carrier. So take these tips as you will, but just know that I’m not claiming to have all the answers, just looking to help give you guys a bit more piece of mind when it comes to supporting your local restaurants.
1. Wash Your Hands – All the Time
This tip has been jammed down our throats for the past few weeks now and it should, hopefully, just be second nature by now. We all know that washing your hands (and not touching your face, which is close to impossible) is the best way to not spread germs around, but when it comes to picking up food, or having food delivered, you should be washing your hands a few more times during the process.
Whether you’re picking up food or having it delivered, wash your hands (or at least use hand sanitizer) before you grab the food from the delivery person or the carry out place. I know some restaurants are doing “no contact” delivery and pickup, but just make it a habit of washing your hands before you touch the food bag/box.
I’ll touch on this again in a minute, but before you touch the actual food to take it out of the to-go boxes, be sure to wash your hands again. And then after you’re completely done touching the packaging, wash them again. The goal is to always wash your hands before you touch the actual food so as not to contaminate it and then shove it into your mouth.
And then, of course, wash your hands after you’re done cleaning up.
It’s going to suck washing your hands so much, and your hands may start to get super dry (like mine), so just make sure you have some moisturizer on hand to help out.
2. Immediately Take The Food Out of the Packaging and Use Your Own Plates
As I kind of mentioned above, the goal is to not contaminate the food, so by removing all of the food from it’s packaging (if possible), and placing it on your own plates, you minimize the contact you will have with the wrappers or boxes that the food came in, which the restaurants have been touching.
Now, most restaurants have put into place stricter policies on hand washing and sanitizing, so I would hope that the packages would be fairly clean, but you never know. Delivery drivers have been going all over the place bringing food to people that you don’t know; maybe some have opted for no contact delivery, but some probably have not, so you never know who the delivery driver has come into contact with, or who their cars might have come in contact with.
We know everyone is being extra cautious right now, especially restaurants, but there’s no reason to not take that extra step just for piece of mind.
Once you’ve taken all the food out of the take out boxes, tie them up in a bag and immediately bring them out to the outside trash. Just another way to minimize any germs that may have come in on the bags into your house.
3. Opt for Contact Less Delivery/Carry Out
Most restaurants these days are offering contact less delivery or carry out. What this means is that you can place your order online, or over the phone, and pay for it up front, and when the delivery driver arrives they will leave the food on your doorstep and notify you (by either ringing the doorbell or a notification on your phone) that your food has arrived and you can then open the door to retrieve it. This way you do not have to interact with the delivery driver at all to receive your food.
The same goes for carry out. You can opt for the restaurant to have someone bring the food out to your car and place it in your trunk or inside the car, without you having to come within 6 feet of that person. This is just another way that we can practice social distancing.
However, I’m not quite sure that this contact less delivery and carry out option really helps.
Sure, it helps prevent you from coming within close contact of another person, which helps us practice social distancing, but that person was still handling your food from the time it left the restaurant to the time it got to your car or house. So I feel like there’s still the possibility to spread germs, but there’s not really any way to avoid that when it comes to ordering food from a restaurant. Someone has to handle your food in order to get it made and ready for you.
If you combine this method of social distancing with our tip above, and immediately remove all the food from the packaging and discard it, then I can see how the two working together would help minimize any spread of germs.
4. Disinfect Your Car
This one only pertains to carry out, but it’s something that a lot of people don’t really think about since we’re not in our cars as much as we’re in our homes (at least most people).
Every time you get in and out of your car, you could possibly be bringing germs into that environment, and since most of us don’t clean the inside of our cars on a regular basis, germs can easily begin to thrive. At the very least, keep a small package of disinfectant wipes in your car so you can wipe down door handles, knobs, levers and the steering wheel.
When you pickup carry out food, if there is anything on the outside of the bags that you’re carrying, you could then transfer that to your steering wheel as you drive home, thus bringing it into your house. Of course if you take the proper steps and wash your hands before and after, you should be minimizing the risk, but it never hurts to do as much as you can.
5. Don’t Use Your Cell Phone While Eating
Again, just like the car, people don’t always think about disinfecting their phones throughout the day and these germs can live for a long time on the glass screens of the latest smartphones. We’re all on our phones constantly throughout the day, so anything you touch or get on your hands, can easily be living on your phone screen for who knows how long; and we all know you’re sitting on the toilet using your phone, so just think about what’s living on that screen.
A simple wipe down with a disinfecting wipe is all it takes to help prevent the spread of germs from your phone.
And we know that a lot of you are sitting on your phones while eating your meals throughout the day, but we would recommend that you don’t, especially if you’re eating foods that you need to use your hands for (sandwiches, burgers, pizza, etc). That’s the easiest way to spread germs from your phone directly to your mouth, and by not using your phone while you’re eating, is the simplest way to prevent that.
And let’s be honest, we all sit on our phones way too much these days, so putting it aside while we eat our meals should just be something we all do anyways.
Protect Yourself While Helping Out Your Local Restaurants
So those are the 5 tips we have for you to help you protect yourself, and your family, while also supporting the local restaurants in your area while they try to keep their employees paid during this weird time in the world.
I know there are other things that I’ve seen recommended on social media and other websites, like microwaving all hot food before you eat it, but I can’t find definitive evidence that doing so would kill the COVID-19 virus. What I have seen is that it’s heat that will kill most virus’, so if you want to throw your hot food in the microwave and blast it for like 2 minutes until it’s steaming hot, that may help, but I don’t think anyone wants to re-heat their already hot food until it’s basically boiling before they eat it. And from what I’ve read, just nuking the food for a few seconds isn’t going to really do anything to help, since it’s the heat that kills the virus’ not the microwaves themselves.
But, if you’re super paranoid and looking for another thing to do to give you piece of mind, it’s not going to hurt anything.
Just use common sense when ordering from local restaurants during this time. Wash your hands, throwout all the packaging, don’t use your disgusting phone while eating, and just be smart. Hopefully the restaurants are doing the same, and as long as we maintain social distancing, we will all come through this on the other end, healthy and ready to get back to life.
Stay healthy everyone.