Products + Test-drives

NYC delivery apps adapt to help you maintain social distancing

Austin Havens-Bowen
By Austin Havens-Bowen  |
March 27, 2020 - 4:30PM

Delivery apps including Seamless, Postmates, and Instacart have adapted to the Covid-19 pandemic by expanding delivery zones, discounting delivery fees, and offering contactless delivery options.


New Yorkers are depending on delivery apps now more than ever before to get groceries and other essential items.

For some, it feels safer to get a delivery than to venture out to a NYC store, where narrow aisles make it nearly impossible to maintain social distancing to prevent the spread of coronavirus. For others who are high risk or have been exposed, it’s an essential service.

In response, apps are stepping up their game: They are waving delivery fees, offering contactless delivery methods, and expanding their delivery zones. Consider ordering out as doing your part to support the economy and tip well, especially because NYC restaurants and other eateries are now take out or delivery only, and they need your support.

And restaurants that are not on apps also offer contactless pick-up, free delivery, and discounts on food and alcohol. The site Project Quarantine lists restaurants that you can order from directly. If you are elderly, disabled, and immunocompromised, Invisible Hands will deliver groceries and other supplies for free so you can avoid going out.

Below, Brick Underground has links to our delivery app guides and highlighted some of the apps that have added or changed their features to make your life a little easier now.

Click here for more of Brick Underground's coronavirus coverage.

Food delivery apps

Seamless: There’s the new Seamless Community Relief Fund, where you can round up your total and donate the change, which will go to charitable organizations supporting local restaurants and drivers impacted by Covid-19. Plus, many restaurants including local eateries and national chains  are offering free delivery. Keep in mind that some of your local restaurants may be closed due to the pandemic.

Doordash: All of the app’s deliveries are non-contact by default during the pandemic, so the delivery man will leave it for you in the lobby or outside of the door. Currently, you can change the delivery method to “Hand It To Me” for now, but we say just play it safe. They have also extended their DashPass program to 100,000 independent restaurants for free so they can deliver food to DashPass members and boost their sales, so check out if your favorite local eatery is one of them.

Postmates: The app has expanded delivery options to include non-contact and curbside pickup. Tons of national chains are offering free delivery exclusively through Postmates, including Chiptole and Subway. And, the app is offering reduced delivery fees for all deliveries during peak times like lunch hours to help those working and going to school from home. You can also order from grocery stores and pharmacies on the app.

Grocery delivery apps 

Instacart: In addition to working with local health officials to continue to change their service to accommodate Covid-19, the app now has a ‘Leave at my Door Delivery’ non-contact option. They’ve also expanded low-stock mode to more retailers so you can choose a second option for items that might be sold out. But, keep in mind thousands of Instacart employees are planning a nationwide strike to demand basic protections and sick pay. 

Amazon Fresh: The site warns that some items might be sold out and delivery slots might not always be available due to high demand. They have added a non-contact delivery option too, and you can pick your order up in a Whole Foods store. There are now purchase limits on certain items.

Apps to live your best NYC life

Nextdoor: This is always a great tool to stay connected with your neighbors, and the app’s community is really stepping it up during these scary times. You can find many neighbors posting about when local grocery stores get stock delivered and where they are finding hard-to-get items. If you’re healthy and need something to do with your spare time, you can volunteer to pick things for elderly or sick neighbors.

Drizly: Alcohol and wine stores are considered an essential business. So, Drizly and other alcohol delivery apps are still open for business to deliver wine and spirits from local shops. Drizly recommends meeting your delivery person outside where they will scan your ID without touching it, and they have eliminated customer signatures during the pandemic. Deliveries might take longer due to high demand. 

Home Depot: Home improvement stores are also considered an essential business, which is great if you want to fix-up your apartment, or you have a green thumb and want to get some plants delivered. You can place an order on the app, and get same-day delivery (if you order by noon) on certain items. Lowe’s also has an app where you can shop and opt to pick up your order in-store or have it delivered. 


Austin Havens-Bowen

Austin Havens-Bowen


Austin Havens-Bowen is a writer and reporter. He previously covered local news for the Queens Ledger and The Hunts Point Express in the Bronx. He graduated from Hunter College with a BA in media studies. He rents a one-bedroom apartment in Astoria with his boyfriend and their two cats.

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