How To Open And Clean Delivery Packages During The Coronavirus Pandemic

Stop us if you've heard this one before: hand washing is involved.

Part of what makes the coronavirus pandemic daunting is how, even for those of us lucky enough to be healthy and safe, many daily routines have completely changed. There are all kinds of things we took for granted before that we now realize we have to pay extra close attention to.

One such thing: receiving deliveries.

Whether it’s food delivery, groceries, or something ordered from Amazon, these packages were put together at some other location and passed through many hands before arriving at your door step.

Mail carriers and couriers are working harder with the increase in online shopping, and many of the restaurants that have closed are still offering takeout and delivery as a way to supplement their lost income. And lots of kind people are taking initiative to help their neighbours by picking up groceries, medication and other essentials, putting themselves at risk so that other people have what they need.

So, in this age of social distancing, how do we safely and responsibly receive a package? Here are some tips.

Request a contact-free delivery

Luckily, delivery people leaving packages on your doorstep without actually interacting with you is already the norm in many cases. Most food delivery services are already doing it, or at the very least letting customers request it (often in the “notes” or “special instructions” section). The risk of transmission through food is very low, epidemiologist Stephen Morse told The Atlantic: “Cooked foods are unlikely to be a concern unless they get contaminated after cooking.”

Canada Post, too, is taking extra precautions by no longer requesting signatures when they drop off packages. Delivery orders of this kind are also relatively unlikely to transmit coronavirus, although you should still wash your hands after opening them, just as a precaution.

Watch: What is social distancing? Story continues after video.

The contact-free delivery is more for the delivery person’s safety than your own: they’re particularly at risk, given how many people they interact with in a day.

So, if you’re ordering something for delivery, be sure to put in the work so that the deliverer doesn’t have to touch or interact too closely with you: ask them to leave the package at the door and knock or notify you, explain why you’re requesting that, and don’t pick it up until they’ve left.

Consider opening the package outside

The virus can live on cardboard, but a new study suggests that it disintegrates quickly on cardboard, unlike plastic or steel. So deliveries in cardboard boxes are unlikely to spread the disease.

But, if you want to take extra precautions, you could open your packages outside, Dr. Kavita Patel told Verizon Media on Thursday.

The method Kristen Bell laid out on Instagram is, it turns out, pretty scientifically sound.

Taking this route involves using gloves to open the package outside, putting the cardboard packaging in an outdoor recycling bin, and then wiping down the contents with disinfectant and bringing them inside.

Dispose of packaging quickly

Once you’ve taken your items out of the box or bag they were delivered in, get rid of the packaging — that’s what was out in the world the longest. After that, sanitize any of the surfaces in your home that the packaging touched.

Thank your concierge

Apartment and condo buildings with concierges are likely at risk too, because of how many people they interact with. If you have a concierge where you live, practice social distancing when you pick up your package for both your sakes, thank them for their work and make sure they have access to lots of hand sanitizer.

Wash your hands

We know you’ve heard this approximately ten billion times by now, but just keep washing those hands. Wash them before you pick your deliveries up, and after. Wash them for 20 seconds, many times a day. It’s easy to do, and it’s one of our most thorough protections against the virus.

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