Many grocery stores around the United States have been enacting limits on how many shoppers can enter the store at once in an effort to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. Now OpenTable wants to help by letting people use its app to directly reserve shopping times at supermarkets so they don't have to wait in lines outdoors.
With an update to its app, users will now see open time slots at local stores that have partnered with OpenTable. If there isn't an available time you can choose to join a waitlist and be notified when more are added. OpenTable has initially partnered with seven grocery stores across San Francisco and Los Angeles but says it's in discussions with some national retailers about joining on.
Shopping at a distance — If you've made a shopping trip in recent days or weeks you've inevitably seen some of the changes retailers are making in response to COVID-19. Many stores are making customers wait in lines outside, only allowing more in after others leave. Some stores also have employees with the sole job of wiping down the handles of each cart before its next use. Other retailers like Walmart have set aside specific hours early in the morning for people over 60 to shop, as they're more vulnerable to the worst consequences of COVID-19.
Of course, grocery stores are an essential stop — people still need to eat. OpenTable's repurposing of its app for restaurant reservations is a clever way to help out and ensure a safer environment for people grabbing household essentials. The CDC recommends people stay six feet apart from others at all times, and only leave their homes when absolutely necessary. Many states across the country have been announcing stay-at-home orders that could, in some cases, see people fined or worse for venturing out.