Even for those who haven’t been directly impacted by COVID-19, the effect of the virus on all our lives is hard to ignore. Daily routines have gone out of the window, with even previously simple things like taking a furniture delivery now coming with a score of added complications. Before they reach us, packages will have gone through multiple pairs of hands… with the threat that now implies, how do we mitigate the risk? How can we make furniture delivery safe without dousing the whole box in bleach and running it through a car wash? And should we even be considering buying furniture for delivery at all at the moment?
At the time of writing, the virus is still far from contained. While the situation won’t last forever (or so we hope, at least), as it stands presently, we should probably be asking ourselves just how important that delivery we’ve ordered is. Is it essential? Do we really, really need it? Right here, right now? Or could it wait? In the current climate, the ethics of arranging deliveries are mind-blowing… after all, we all want to support local businesses (and with a lot of stores shut, home delivery is increasingly becoming the only way to do it), but should we be doing that by putting the health of delivery agents (not to mention our own) in the firing line?
As Rima Basu, an assistant ethics professor at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, California, puts it to Glamour, “We are asking people to make themselves physically vulnerable for the safety of others. I believe we should limit ourselves to ordering what is necessary. We must ask ourselves, is it worth the risk?” But ultimately, life does and must go on. At some point or another, we’re all going to have to order something for delivery, be that furniture, food, or something else altogether. But how can we make it safe, both for ourselves and others? If you can’t put that furniture delivery off any longer, here’s how to do it safely (and yes, washing your hands does feature. Heavily).
Request Contactless Delivery
According to the WHO, it’s still safe enough to carry on receiving deliveries, providing certain common-sense measures are applied. Although it’s not impossible to catch the virus by touching a surface that’s previously been touched, sneezed on, breathed on, or coughed on by an infected person, it’s not how the virus likes to spread, and is considered low risk enough not to put deliveries off the table completely. As the WHO writes, ‘The likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low and the risk of catching the virus that causes COVID-19 from a package that has been moved, traveled, and exposed to different conditions and temperature is also low.”
So, the chances of you catching the disease from the packaging aren’t too great (although certain precautions are still worth taking, as we’ll see shortly) but what about the person handing it over? Given the number of people delivery agents come into contact with on a daily basis, they’re amongst the most at risk in the country. Requesting contact-free delivery not only reduces the risk for customers, it reduces the risk for them, too.
Increasingly, contact-free delivery is becoming the norm, but play it safe by making it clear in the delivery instructions of your order that you’d prefer the package to be left as close to the house as it’s safe to leave it, and for the agent to knock on the door or notify you in some way of its arrival. Agents are now well versed in maintaining a safe distance, and will typically photograph the order at drop off as proof of delivery, rather than requesting a signature.
If for any reason you do need to come into direct contact with the agent, mitigate the risk by wearing a mask (as a matter of course, they should be as well) and avoiding shaking hands. If you can, stand at least 2 meters away from them at all times.
Open the Box Outside
Try to get into the habit of opening all your deliveries outside. Depending on the type of furniture you’ve ordered, this may or may not be possible, but if it is, do it. As reported by the New York Times, studies suggest that coronavirus doesn’t tend to stick around on cardboard, but it still pays to practice safe habits. As the Huff Post recommends, open the package with gloves before disposing of the packaging material as quickly as possible. If possible, wipe or spray the goods with disinfectant before bringing them indoors.
Wash your Hands
It may have been said a thousand times, but washing your hands is still one of the most effective ways of preventing the disease from spreading. Wash them for at least 20 seconds before opening your package, and again for 20 seconds once you’ve finished. It’s easy to do and it WORKS.
Assemble the Furniture Yourself
At present, most companies have suspended in-house delivery and in-house assembly. If the option for the second of these eventually resumes, think long and hard about whether you really need it. The agent delivering and assembling the furniture may have already come into contact with dozens of other people that day, putting you at an increased risk that simply isn’t worth taking if you can avoid it. Assembling some types of furniture might be a challenge too far, but with a little patience and work, most pieces can be assembled easily enough.
Don’t Touch it for 48 Hours
If it’s possible to leave the furniture delivery in a shed or outhouse for 48 hours, do it. Otherwise, try cordoning off a designated spot indoors. Dump the package there and resist the temptation to touch it for 2 days. By the time you come to handle it again, any lingering germs should have died.