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Postmates and Instacart launch no-contact deliveries amid coronavirus outbreak

Mindful of growing concern over the spread of the coronavirus, both Postmates and Instacart have launched new delivery options that reduce contact between the courier and the customer.

With the latest version of the Postmates app, customers will see several “drop-off options” that lets them choose whether to meet their Postmate courier at the door as usual, or collect their order curbside, or go non-contact with deliveries left at the door.

In a post announcing the new feature that avoided direct reference to the virus, or COVID-19 to give it its official name, Postmates said: “We know there are always people who, for health and other reasons, might prefer a non-contact delivery experience and we believe this will provide customers with that option.”

Instacart has also started offering the no-contact option for deliveries of fresh groceries and household essentials. In a message on its website, the company said the new “Leave At My Door” option had been in testing with select customers for the past few months. But in recent days it said it had seen “a significant surge” in consumer adoption of the feature, presumably linked to concerns over COVID-19 (though, like Postmates, it makes no mention of the virus).

Leave at My Door Delivery was originally designed for customers who might be out at the time of delivery, but during testing, the company found that people were using the feature in additional ways. “Whether doorbell conscious with a sleeping baby, in the backyard with the kids or not feeling well, Leave at My Door Delivery gives customers the flexibility to have their groceries delivered without having to come to the door or be at home,” Instacart said in its message.

In China, where some cities were put in lockdown and residents told to stay home to reduce coronavirus infections, food delivery workers have become an important lifeline for many people. How serious the situation becomes in the U.S. remains to be seen, but for some, whether those quarantined at home with COVID-19 or people who deem it important to maintain distance from visitors, the ability to reduce contact may provide peace of mind until the impact of the virus begins to fade.

Meanwhile, the couriers themselves have their own issues to deal with, fearing the loss of pay if they stay off work due to illness while at the same time mindful they could spread their ailment if they do. We’ve reached out to Postmates and Instacart to find out what support they are offering their couriers in light of the growing concerns over the COVID-19 outbreak and will update this article when we hear back.

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