OpenTable coronavirus tool allows customers to book time slots at stores, restaurants

Software allows users to choose between available shopping time slots at retailers to avoid congestion.

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Dinner reservation app OpenTable is launching a new tool that could help grocery stores and eateries ease overcrowding as the United States battles coronavirus.

Health experts have stressed social-distancing measures to help stop the spread of COVID-19, urging people to stay home. But that has caused another problem: long lines of shoppers teeming stores, looking to stockpile on essentials in case of an extended quarantine.

OpenTable's software allows users to choose between available shopping time slots at supermarkets and other outlets that remain open, in order to avoid congestion.

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A cashier wears a mask while working behind a clear barrier between her and a customer at El Rancho grocery store in Dallas, March 26. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

"As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, we see an opportunity to help our restaurant partners pivot to takeout, delivery and storefront business models, so we put a team of engineers together and built this in less than a week," Joseph Essas, the company's chief technology officer Joseph Essas in a statement sent to FOX Business. "We hope this new solution provides similar support for retailers and grocers to help them safely manage the influx of shoppers."

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Shopping times and group sizes vary on the establishment, but if a certain location is booked, users can join a waitlist and receive text alerts when it's their turn to shop.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
BKNGBOOKING HOLDINGS INC.1,812.64+70.00+4.02%

Other brands have implemented similar measures, like Safeway, Albertsons, Target and Walmart, for example, adding special time slots for seniors and vulnerable shoppers.

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So far, California-based Gwen Butcher Shop & Restaurant, PRAIRIE, Tartine Manufactory, Tesse Restaurant and The Epicurean Trader have signed on as the first partners with OpenTable. The brand said its software, overall, helps nearly 60,000 restaurants worldwide.

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