10 tips for safe grocery shopping during the COVID-19 pandemic

| May 1, 2020

Protect yourself, other shoppers, and store employees with these safety tips

Since the onset of coronavirus, our daily routines have dramatically changed.

Before COVID-19, grocery shopping was one of those errands that we never used to think twice about. Now, things have changed and we need to be vigilant in protecting ourselves, other shoppers, and store employees.

To help you, here are 10 ways to practice safe grocery shopping next time you need to stock up on essentials.

Consider delivery or pickup

Shopping from home is ultimately the safest way to ensure you’re not exposing yourself or others to the virus. To help, many grocery stores are currently offering curbside pickup and/or delivery services.

Grocery delivery or pickup services can be especially beneficial for higher-risk people, such as the elderly and those with chronic health conditions. You can avoid contact by asking the delivery person to leave your groceries at the door. Don’t forget to tip them electronically!

Wear a mask

The CDC recommends that people wear cloth masks when in public. This preventative measure can be especially important in highly trafficked areas such as grocery stores. It’s important to avoid touching your face while wearing a mask, and to wash your mask between each use. You can find instructions on how to make your own cloth mask at home on the CDC website.

Wash your hands before and after shopping

Properly washing your hands is one of the most effective ways to prevent contracting COVID-19. Washing your hands before grocery shopping will also better protect other shoppers and employees, and washing your hands after grocery shopping will help stop the spread of any germs you may have picked up on your trip.

Make use of sanitizing stations

Many grocery stores have stepped up their cleaning and disinfecting protocols for high-touch areas such as refrigerator doors, grocery carts, and basket handles. Many are also offering free disinfectant wipes for guests to use when entering and leaving the store. Be sure to sanitize the handle of your grocery cart or basket as well as your hands before and after grocery shopping.

Keep your hands to yourself as much as possible

Heed social distancing rules when you’re inside the grocery store, and avoid touching your nose, mouth, and eyes. Be sure to cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue, and ask an employee if you need help reaching or finding something. Try to only touch items you are actually going to purchase. Browse with your eyes and not with your hands. 

Shop during quiet hours

Hours are likely different at grocery stores during this time, as they need to spend more time on new inventory, extra cleaning, and sanitizing protocols. Before you stop by, it’s worth calling and asking when a good time to come in would be. Most chains are designating certain periods of time when elderly customers can shop safely so avoid making a grocery run during those times, unless you’re a senior yourself.

Pay with a credit or debit card

To avoid the spread of germs, health experts believe it’s worth taking the extra precaution to pay with a card instead of cash—and using Apple Pay (or Google Pay or Samsung Pay) is even a better option for a touchless experience.

Disinfect nonporous containers and any surfaces touched by grocery bags

According to the CDC, there is likely very low risk of spread from food products or packaging. However, research shows the virus can live for up to 24 hours on cardboard and for 2–3 days on plastic and stainless steel. Wash all nonporous grocery packaging with soap and water, or wipe it down with disinfecting wipes. Then, wash your hands and any surfaces your groceries have touched to prevent the virus from spreading in your home.

Stop stockpiling

Stocking your home with everything your family could possibly need for the next few weeks may seem like a good idea, but it’s important to be mindful of other shoppers. You can help make sure there’s enough to go round by shopping for no more than two weeks of food and supplies at a time.

Wash your reusable bags after every shopping trip

While the virus lasts longer on hard, nonporous surfaces, it can still linger on soft surfaces like clothing and reusable grocery shopping bags. Some stores are no longer allowing customers to bring or use reusable bags, so check with your local store before shopping.

For the latest and most up-to-date information on running essential errands during the coronavirus pandemic, please visit the CDC website.

Sources: CDC, Eatingwell.com.