COVID-19 Q&A

UPDATED:  Wednesday 31st March

The following advice applies to the UK. If OLIO-ing outside the UK, please ensure you follow local Government guidance at all times.

If you are an OLIO volunteer, please, Click here for specific guidance

Can I share with my neighbours during the coronavirus pandemic?


Yes. Sharing on OLIO can continue, but it must be done safely and in compliance with government guidelines. More below.

On what authority has it been decided sharing can continue?


OLIO is a registered food business and we work with our Environmental Health Primary Authority to receive ‘assured advice’ on our rules for sharing on OLIO. We have reconfirmed with our Primary Authority and our Food Safety Advisor, Sterling Crew, that sharing on OLIO not only can continue but also plays an important part in providing an essential service to the community, especially in the face of mounting food insecurity. Also, it has been confirmed by the UK Gov and FDA that it's very unlikely that coronavirus can be spread through things like packages or food.

What can I add?


  • The usual restrictions apply to food that can be shared on OLIO - check here
  • All food can be shared on OLIO. For example toiletries, clothing, electrical items. However, there is a preference for essential items to be shared as a result of COVID-19.

How can I share safely?


As a reminder, 

  • All pickups must be ‘no contact’ pickups. See below for details.
  • You must maintain a minimum of 2m distance from others wherever possible or ‘1 metre plus’ if protective equipment is present.
  • Avoid using public transport
  • Where possible, stay local – avoiding travelling outside of your village, town, or the part of a city where you live

For adders...


  • Designate a 'no-contact' pickup. It's just like when you set your delivery instructions to 'hide in a safe space' (except you’re hiding your items for requesters to collect)
  • Bundle items into a clean bag and add/staple a note with the collector's name. Ask the requesters to leave the bag behind if you don’t have enough bags
  • Leave items out shortly before the requester is scheduled to arrive
  • If you have added multiple items ensure two requesters aren’t scheduled to arrive at the same time so they don’t risk bumping into each other
  • Ideally, use a designated OLIO pickup box, with a lid, which you can put in your safe space
  • Add a personal note (like this) to the requester - it's a great way to keep up the spirit and they'll love it! :-)

For requesters...


  • Give the person you’re picking up from a precise arrival time so they can set items out in advance in order to ensure social distancing rules are complied with 
  • Arrive at the time you indicated, so items are not left outside unsupervised and you don’t risk bumping into the adder or another requester
  • If items are left in a bag, please leave the bag behind so it can be reused by the adder 
  • Only take bags/items with your name on them, and if in doubt don't collect 
  • Consider leaving a personal thank you note - a little human touch goes a long way in these trying times!

Click here for a visual guide

Hygiene guidance


By following hygiene guidelines you can minimise the risk to yourself and your community:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water often – do this as a matter of routine for at least 20 seconds
    • Before and after handling food, and especially after being in a public place, blowing their nose, coughing, or sneezing
    • Wash before and after setting items out/handling items
    • Wash before and after picking items up/bringing items home
  • Use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze and wash your hands thereafter

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Should I add/collect food items that are not wrapped/ packaged?


It has been confirmed by the NHS and FDA that it's very unlikely that coronavirus can be spread through things like packages or food.

Should I wear a mask when giving/ receiving items?


Follow local advice if masks are essential in your area or for using public transport. Masks can help but are only effective when used in combination with frequent hand washing or sanitising.

Should I wear gloves when giving/ receiving items?


You can choose to wear gloves, however, this does not replace the need to thoroughly wash hands at critical points such as handling items.

I have/ someone I am in close contact with has developed symptoms/ has been diagnosed with coronavirus, should I use OLIO?


  • You must self-isolate for 10 days
  • If you need food or another essential item, please let other users know of your symptoms and add a ‘wanted listing’
  • Use the NHS track & trace system - https://covid19.nhs.uk/
  • How do I know if another OLIOer has symptoms of coronavirus?


    You can ask other OLIOers if they are feeling unwell. Please understand this may be a sensitive subject and should be approached with compassion.

    For more information on Coronavirus

    WHO - https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses

    UK - https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public

    USA - https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html

    SWE - krisinformation.se/detta-kan-handa/handelser-och-storningar/20192/myndigheterna-om-det-nya-coronaviruset

    Singapore - https://www.gov.sg/features/covid-19

    New Zealand - https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/covid-19-novel-coronavirus

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