With restaurants across the country unable to open except for delivery and takeout, Booking Holdings' (BKNG -1.22%) OpenTable service is now accepting reservations at partner supermarkets to help consumers avoid the crowds the coronavirus pandemic is producing.
Much like making a reservation at a restaurant, OpenTable will allow users to book a time slot to go shopping or be added to a waiting list, which could ease overcrowding and keep shoppers safer from COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
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OpenTable currently has seven partners in Los Angeles and San Francisco, though six of them are restaurants that were setting up as pop-up grocery stores as a means of surviving the pandemic's restrictions, The Verge reports. The company says it is in active talks with other national grocers and retailers.
However, Los Angeles County started moving against restaurants that were selling groceries, with health inspectors shutting them down for operating outside the scope of their restaurant license. L.A. County's director of public health Dr. Barbara Ferrer said, "You cannot just decide you're going to sell groceries."
According to OpenTable, the app is free for both customers and stores and will allow the partners to determine the sort of service they want to make available, such as setting aside dedicated hours to shop for people 60 or older or for those with preexisting conditions.
The app could help supermarkets that are already limiting the number of customers they allow into their stores while solving the social distancing issues associated with queuing up outside while waiting to go in.