We know the pandemic has surfaced plenty of concern around how we can adjust our day-to-day errands to protect ourselves and our communities. Ordinary trips to the store now include more stress due to the virus, leaving some feeling unsafe when shopping for groceries during the Coronavirus.
So, is it safe to visit the grocery store? When following The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) guide for running essential errands, or considering the recommendations below, it’s generally safe for most to visit the market or leave your home to get what you need. However, we know challenges persist, so we are offering tips that make shopping at the grocery store during COVID-19 a little less stressful.
1. Know how to protect yourself before shopping
Most grocery stores have adopted the CDC’s social distancing recommendations and state guidelines to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Many of these changes include a reduced number of shoppers allowed inside of a store at once, one-way aisles, wearing protective gear and many other instructions. Here are the CDC’s directions on how to protect yourself and others when shopping during the Coronavirus:
- Wash your hands before leaving your house
- Stay six-feet apart from other shoppers
- Wear a face cover or mask
- Disinfect the shopping cart
- Avoid touching your face
- Visit the grocery store during slower periods
- Use contactless payments and avoid paying with cash
- Bring hand sanitizer
If you’re over the age of 60 or immunocompromised, many retailers like Costco and others also offer special hours that typically start as early as 6:00 AM. These hours further limit the number of shoppers inside and provide added protection for those who need it most.
2. Make a plan and bring a list
Planning and reducing your trips to the grocery store during the Coronavirus decreases your chances of encountering others who might have it. It’s also wise to choose a store that carries most or all of what you need, so you only have to make one or two stops during each outing.
Going to the grocery store with a plan will ultimately keep you organized and focused on purchasing what you need. Start by making a list of what you want, including a meal plan, and stock your cart with items that allow you to make fewer monthly trips. When you’re ready to head out, don’t forget your face mask.
3. Shop alone or minimize who you bring
Social distancing measures and state guidelines are requiring grocery stores to limit the number of people allowed to shop at once. These rules prevent shoppers from overcrowding aisles and make it safer for us to get what we need at the market. While this isn’t ideal for everyone, particularly families, visiting the grocery store alone or minimizing who you bring makes the experience safer for everyone.
4. What to do when you’re home
The CDC reports that there isn’t any evidence to support the transmission of COVID-19 from food, so it isn’t necessary to disinfect your produce or food packaging. However, you can further protect yourself from the Coronavirus by taking a few additional measures when you get home. These include:
- Washing your hands as soon as you get home
- Rinsing off produce with water
- Wiping down packaging with a washcloth
- Washing personal grocery bags or recycling paper bags
5. Shop online and stay home
If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms associated with COVID-19 like shortness of breath, cough or fever, we recommend avoiding the grocery store if you can. Instead, take advantage of online home delivery services or grocery stores that offer curbside pickup to stock your home with what you need. You can also use these services whether or not you’re sick and simply wish to flatten the curve by staying home.
Services like Instacart make it easier to order groceries from retailers like New Seasons, Costco and others on a smartphone while having them delivered to your home. Meal kit services like Blue Apron are other options for those looking for curated meals packaged with ingredients and easy to make plates tailored to your diet. If you absolutely must visit a market, use the curbside pickup option to reduce contact with others as much as possible.
NWPC supports your well-being
We’re making our communities safer and healthier by offering our Portland patients Telehealth virtual visits. If you’re an NWPC patient experiencing any of the symptoms associated with COVID-19, or have additional questions regarding your health, you can schedule a virtual visit at home by calling 503.659.4988.