How do I safely order takeout?

So it’s 5pm. It’s been a long day of working from home and you are thinking about what to do about dinner. Is it safe to order takeout? How can I do this as safely as possible?

We know in a controlled lab environment, the SARS-CoV-2 virus can stay on plastic and cardboard for hours. What we don’t know is if this is how people often get infected in the real world. The amount of virus on both these surfaces drops exponentially in the lab over time. We don’t know how much SARS-CoV-2 virus you need to be exposed to in order to get infected. When we’ve studied other ways of SARS-CoV-2 contamination of on surfaces in the hospital room of a COVID19 patient, it hasn’t always been there. What this means is we’re not 100% sure. So what do you do?

What is clear, is take out is much safer than eating out in a crowded restaurant with many other people shoulder to shoulder – especially if everybody isn’t wearing masks and you can’t stay 6 feet apart.

So if you’ve decided to order take out, then how do you do it.

  1. Arrange for contact-free delivery with your favorite delivery service and tip generously (Thank our essential workers!)
  2. When you pick up the takeout package, bring it to a designated place in your apartment or house.
  3. Open up the bag and transfer your food to your own plates.
  4. Toss the packaging.
  5. Possibly wipe down the counter where you unpacked the food.
  6. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water and enjoy your food.

If you want to think about why this works, take a look back at the viral explainer. Among the key steps here is the timing of hand washing. Even if there is virus on the outside of the packaging and you get it on your hands, hand washing will eliminate it. As long as you do not touch your face before you do this, you really lower your risk.

You can’t eliminate all risk from COVID-19, but the key is to avoid high risk exposures and mitigate what risks you need to take.