In Dining

Many restaurants are offering delivery services to keep their business afloat. (PHOTO: SED)

Food delivery drivers serve vital role during coronavirus

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For now, food delivery through restaurants and food-delivery services is a middle-ground option for people who are not making meals but also don't want to go into restaurants.

Earlier today, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers announced gatherings of 50 people or more statewide were prohibited to slow the spread of coronavirus. This is in compliance with a recommendation from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of not gathering in groups of more than 50.

"Folks, it's on all of us to practice social distancing," Evers said.

By the end of the week, some believe food delivery services will be suspended, too, but for now it's still an option.

Delivery services like Postmates, Uber Eats, GrubHub and Door Dash have moved to a "no-contact deliver" policy which means customers pay for their meals and tips entirely online or via the phone which prevents the handling of cash. The drivers then leave the food on the porch or outside the door so they do not have to touch doorknobs and to prevent making contact with customers.

Ryan Clancy, owner of Bounce and Fling MKE, drives for Uber Eats and for Bounce. He says in addition to the no-contact delivery procedure he's upped disinfecting his hands and car to ensure the food bags are safe during the transportation process.

"We've always prided ourselves on our cleanliness, so this is a natural extension of what we were already doing," says Clancy. "We're just ramping up in the hope it gives the public more of a feeling of security."

Bounce is offering a Pay It Forward Pizza option right now which allows customers to buy an extra pizza for someone in need.

Dave Salkin is an Uber / Uber Eats Driver and says he's not nervous about driving people around or delivering food for now. However, he's pleasantly surprised by how many of his customers have asked him for his take on what's going on. "I'm older and of the age that is most at risk. People are asking me for my opinion and if I've been through anything like this before," says Salkin.

Salkin, who was in China during the SARS outbreak, says the main thing he learned from the experience was to take it one day at a time. "That's really all we can do at this point with everything," he says.

As a food delivery driver and as an Uber and Lyft driver, Clancy says almost every conversation in his car revolves around coronavirus and from his perspective there's a wide range of emotional responses.

"People who understand science seem to be handling it pretty well. But then yesterday I still got a guy who tries to climb into the front seat with me and later said he doesn't watch the news," says Clancy.

The bottom line for food delivery drivers and the service industry as a whole is they are relying on no-contact food orders for as long as it remains legal.

"We are relying on the public to help get us through this so after the pandemic is over we can bring back our employees and resume normalcy," says Clancy.

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