How Much to Tip During the Coronavirus Pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic is forcing many Americans to shift their spending habits in ways they never have before.

Some people are using online grocery delivery services to avoid going into the store, while others are ordering takeout from their favorite restaurants instead of dining inside.

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But what’s an appropriate tip for the service providers who are making our lives easier during this difficult time?

Tipping During Coronavirus: What You Need to Know 

Diane Gottsman, a national etiquette expert, author of Modern Etiquette for a Better Life and founder of The Protocol School of Texas, is my go-to resource for all things tipping.

With so many people struggling financially right now, her advice is simple: Do what you can. 

"While tipping has always been part of showing people your appreciation, now more than ever a gratuity is appreciated and well deserved," Gottsman says. "If it does not impact your budget and you can offer a bit more during this time, it never hurts to extend a gesture of kindness to another human being."

As businesses across the country slowly reopen and we adjust to a new normal, I wanted Gottsman’s thoughts on tipping in a few specific situations. Let’s get straight to her advice.

Should I Tip Extra on My First Trip Back to a Service Provider?

For the first time in a few months, many people are getting a haircut, manicure or massage. In these cases, Gottsman says leaving an extra tip is a “thoughtful gesture but not mandatory.”

If your budget allows and you feel compelled, she says you can add five dollars or double the tip — whatever is most comfortable.

What’s an Appropriate Tip for Food Delivery and Pickup?

Grocery and restaurant food delivery services have become invaluable during the coronavirus lockdown. That’s why Gottsman says it’s important to tip your delivery driver graciously.

“You can tip on the app and if you find that the driver has gone above and beyond, which is often the case, you are certainly welcome to tip them more when they arrive,” Gottsman says. “You can leave it under the mat in an envelope. Anywhere from $5 to $10 more has been the gold standard during this pandemic.”

Keep in mind that the "delivery fee" or "delivery charge" you see on the bill is not a tip for the driver.

Meanwhile, for those who are ordering takeout from restaurants, Gottsman recommends that you leave a 15% to 20% tip. For small meal orders (like $10 or $15), she says a $5 tip is a great way to say thank you.

Is Tipping at Places Like Coffee Shops Still Optional? 

Over the years, Gottsman has said that there’s no obligation to tip at places like coffee shops where a tip jar is placed at the register.

And while Gottsman told me that tipping at those establishments is still optional, she suggests that you “leave your extra change or more when possible” to help out your favorite barista.

Have you changed your tipping habits during the coronavirus pandemic? Let us know in the comments section below!

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