Asking are takeaways open in the current climate is completely understandable. After all, since we're all stuck indoors for the foreseeable, just about the only glimmer of excitement comes sealed in plastic and strapped to the back of a moped.
However, as with everything in the age of COVID, there are a few complications associated with ordering your favourite food.
Here's everything you need to know about getting takeout in these troubled times.
Are takeaways open?
Yes, takeaways are open – but there are restrictions in place.
As of January 6, the whole of England has been placed in a total national lockdown.
Under these new measures, people have been advised to "only leave home for work purposes where it is unreasonable for you to do your job from home."
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The guidance also instructs hospitality venues, including cafes, restaurants and bars, to close until further notice. All in all, bad news for food lovers.
Fortunately, however, there are some bright spots in a pretty bleak landscape. According to the government website: "(This rule) is with the exception of providing food and non-alcoholic drinks for takeaway (until 11pm), click-and-collect and drive-through. All food and drink (including alcohol) can continue to be provided by delivery."
This means that restaurants serving takeaway are still able to operate as normal, albeit without the option for a 3 AM kebab.
How safe is it to order takeout food?
Given that COVID-19 is primarily transmitted by breathing in contaminated droplets spread by other infected people, the risk of infection by touching unclean surfaces – such as takeaway boxes – is relatively low.
However, this doesn't mean that the chances are zero.
Fortunately, takeaway customers can take steps to mitigate many of the risks. In a recent interview with the BBC, Prof Sally Bloomfield of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine advised diners to "Empty the contents (into a clean dish)," adding: "...dispose of the packaging into a refuse bag and wash your hands thoroughly before you eat. Take food out of a container with a spoon and eat it with a knife and fork – not your fingers."
In order to make things even more secure, many delivery services - such as Deliveroo and Just Eat - have stepped up their security around contact-free delivery. This makes it easier than ever to minimise the risks.
How safe is online shopping?
Just as with a takeaway, you can never reduce the risk of contracting COVID from an online shop to zero. That said, it's still a much safer option than visiting a store in person.
In fact, supermarkets and government officials have recently become so concerned with the situation in stores that major players in the industry have made a series of stricter changes to their store policy.
On Monday, for instance, both Morrisons and Sainsbury's introduced a ban on maskless shoppers. This followed an interview with vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi, in which the MP said:
"Ultimately, the most important thing to do now is to make sure that actually enforcement - and of course the compliance with the rules - when people are going into supermarkets are being adhered to.
"We need to make sure people actually wear masks and follow the one-way system."
Given these developments, shopping online remains a far preferable option from a safety point of view.
When will restaurants reopen?
Unfortunately for struggling restaurateurs, sources state that most food businesses may not be able to reopen until May this year.
In an interview with The Sunday Times, an anonymous Downing Street source admitted that "The May Day bank holiday is more likely the moment you see pubs reopening.” This indicates that the situation is similar for the rest of the industry.
Exactly what the wider effect of these measures will be remains to be seen. However, given the current extent of the damage, the immediate forecast for the industry looks gloomy.