Full-service or self-service gas: Which one is safer during the pandemic?

A trade group representing gas station owners asked Gov. Phil Murphy last week to allow New Jerseyans to be able to pump their own gas after many gas station attendants quit their jobs out of fear of catching COVID-19.

News 12 Staff

Apr 21, 2020, 1:27 AM

Updated 1,464 days ago


The governor said that he had no plans to withdraw the ban, and many News 12 New Jersey viewers said that they would feel much safer from the virus if an attendant pumped gas for them.
But the question remains – which is safer, full-service or self-service?
“What I’m finding a lot in the discussions I’m having around this virus is, there aren’t clear-cut answers of this is the better way,” says Montclair State University epidemiologist Dr. Stephanie Silvera.
Silvera says that health experts do not know enough about the coronavirus and how it spreads to know which option of pumping gas may be safer.
What is clear is that whoever is pumping the gas may be the most at risk – whether it be the station attendant or the driver.
“There are ways to reduce the risk without doing away with the attendants,” Silvera says.
This would include making sure attendants have masks, gloves, wipes and can wash their hands regularly. Drivers would also have to just open their windows a crack to pass a credit card through.
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Adelphi University epidemiologist K.C. Rondello was a bit more decisive, saying if done right, with the right precautions, the public is better off having someone pump the gas for them.
"Well, neither of them are perfect, so it becomes a matter of what's the lesser of two evils. Having a single individual to manipulate the gas pump handle, to manipulate the credit card keypad. All minimizes that touch risk in a big way. In thinking quite a lot about this, I believe definitely that the lesser of two evils is to maintain our current system of having an attendant,” Rondello says.
Silvera and Rondello both say that it is best for customers to use credit cards instead of cash and that the customer should wipe down the card after getting it back.

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