Visiting the grocery store right now doesn’t have to be a super stressful situation.
You can still safely and calmly shop for food during the Coronavirus pandemic — but you will have to take some new precautions.
By knowing how the virus spreads and understanding the risks, you can shop confidently when you need to go to the store.
Some good news: Most grocery shops across the land are practicing strict decontamination and social distancing guidelines.
The most important thing to remember: Wash your hands before and after you go to the store and bring hand sanitizer if you can.
Here are some helpful tips for safe grocery shopping in these bizarre times.
Explore delivery options
First, ask yourself, do I really need to go to the store?
If you have enough food for two weeks, you shouldn’t go to the store.
This is especially true if you are a senior or have any underlying health conditions. Instead, try a grocery deliver if it’s available near you.
Food delivery services like Instacart are in high demand right now. Grocery delivery is easy to order from your phone or computer, and it greatly reduces any risk that comes along with being in a public place.
Do a quick online search to see if delivery options are available in your locality. If you can, use this option instead of going to the grocery store.
Be mindful that these services are in high demand, so you may have to wait a few days or a week for your order to be delivered. Plan accordingly.
And remember, tip your delivery person well. They’re working very hard for you right now.
Write your grocery list on paper, not your phone
Your phone is the germiest object you carry around with you all day.
And aside from your pillow, it’s probably the one object you touch to your face the most during the day.
The virus can live on surfaces such as a grocery cart handle or credit card keypad. When you go out shopping, you don’t want to touch contaminated surfaces and spread them to your phone.
This is a good practice even when there isn’t a pandemic in full swing.
Don’t go shopping if you have any symptoms
This should go without saying…
If you’re experiencing any symptoms like fever, shortness of breath, coughing or a runny nose, use a delivery service instead.
COVID-19 spreads most through people who don’t know they’re contagious. You can even be asymptomatic and spread it without knowing it, so use caution.
Try to go alone at off hours
If you don’t require essential help, now’s not a good time to bring another person to the grocery store… especially kids. You know how kids love to run around and touch everything.
Plan trips in the morning close to store openings or in the evenings after normal busy rushes.
This reduces your exposure to other shoppers. Many grocery stores are limiting the amount of people they allow in the store at one time.
Wear a cloth mask
The Centers for Disease Control and most health experts now advise wearing a mask when you’re in public. A cloth face mask or a bandana is fine.
The current understanding of COVID-19 is that it spreads through droplets exhaled by coughing, sneezing, or breathing in close contact. Masks reduce your risk of transmission and from spreading the disease if you’re symptomatic or asymptomatic.
Masks also help you not touch your face. The current understanding among health experts is that most people have contracted COVID-19 by touching contaminated surfaces and then touching their face.
You’d be amazed how many times you probably touch your face throughout the day without even knowing.
Keep your distance from other shoppers
It feels weird keeping distance from every human around you, but we’re all in the uncomfortable same boat.
Try to stay at least six feet apart from others as you shop. Many grocery stores are only allowing a certain number of people in at a time to shop so it doesn’t get crowded.
Use hand sanitizer often
Carry hand sanitizer if you have it. Apply a drop to your hands before you enter the store and when you leave.
Many grocery stores have hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes near the grocery carts. It’s also good idea to wipe down the handle of your grocery cart before you handle it.
Also, use hand sanitizer before and after you handle produce.
Touch only what you plan on buying
Scientists aren’t clear on how long the virus can live on surfaces, but current thought is anywhere from a few hours to days.
Reduce your risk of transmitting and catching the virus by unnecessarily touching things you won’t buy.
Use store bags if you can
While shopping with your own bag is good for the environment, it adds one additional touchpoint to your trip into public. There’s a small risk that whatever your bag touched in the store will come back with you to your home.
Try to use store bags, so that you can dispose of them when you’re done shopping. If you use one of your own bags, use a washable bag that can be rinsed with detergent.
Learn how to pay with your phone
Phone apps like Apple Pay allow you to use a credit card to pay for groceries without having to touch a credit card pad.
Most smartphones come with a card pay app built into the phone. They vary depending on the brand of your phone. Do some quick research to find an option that fits your needs.
Tips for when you get home
Wash your hands as soon as you get home.
Always wash your hands when you come back from shopping and touching items at the store.
You don’t need to disinfect every item in your haul. But, you should wash your produce, but don’t use soap or chemical cleaners. Instead spray vinegar on them and rinse thoroughly with water.