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Staying safe while buying groceries amid the pandemic

Man holding a banana on a grocery

While grocery stores have remained open during the pandemic, the COVID-19 menace has changed the way people normally do their shopping. Considering the risk of exposure, grocery shoppers must now take certain precautions when buying their food and other household goods. 

Here’s how you can stay safe when grocery shopping:

Plan ahead

Prior to the pandemic, it was easy to just head to the grocery store and take your time while shopping for items. With the coronavirus, the rule now is to get in and out quickly to limit exposure to any virus. 

Make a list of items to buy before going to the grocery. If you know that you’ll be buying a lot of items, it helps to make a list the night before or even a few days prior.

To give you an idea of what to place in that list, plan out your meals for the next week or two – even for the whole month. Remember to check your pantry, as well. This way, you won’t have to keep going back and forth through every aisle and instead, you can go directly to the ones that have what you need. When you’re already at the grocery…

Use protective gear

Wearing a face mask gives you one layer of protection and, at the same time, reduces virus transmission. There are many masks out there these days that are specifically designed to shield you from infected droplets so get one that you can wear comfortably and consistently.

As for gloves, wearing them to the grocery store is discouraged because it could lead to self-contamination. Those who wear gloves also tend to touch more surfaces. Instead, it’s best to limit the items you hold in the store and to avoid touching your face and your phone. 

Go during off-peak hours

The best time to go grocery shopping is during off-peak hours. That would usually be in the early hours after opening on weekdays. In doing your groceries early in the morning, you don’t get exposed to too many people, Moreover, you get first dibs to fully stocked shelves. Note, though, that off-peak hours may differ depending on your location and the grocery’s target clientele. 

When going to the grocery during off-peak hours, it’s best to either go alone or with one other person. The fewer people that are in the grocery, the better. Some grocery stores may also have special hours for those more vulnerable to the virus. Seniors, immunocompromised people, and high-risk individuals can shop without worrying about big crowds. 

Mind the gap

During your grocery shopping trip, be aware of other shoppers and try to keep your distance. It’s recommended that you stay at least 6 feet or 2 meters away from them. Not sure how far 6 feet is? The distance is around two shopping carts. 

Many grocery stores also have stickers or tape on the ground for socially-distanced queues, especially when lining up for checkout. All you need to do is to stay on those markers and move to the next marker as you go forward.

Checkout options

Once you reach the checkout line, you can pay via cash, credit, and self-checkout. While some say that credit is better since cash isn’t known for being clean, you’d still need to touch a pin pad when using your credit card. But no matter what option you use, it’s always best to wash your hands well (or to use hand sanitizer) after. 

If your grocery store has contactless payment options, that’s even better. With contactless payment, you avoid touching dollar bills, the keypad on the credit card machine, or other surfaces that other people have previously touched. 

Getting home from grocery shopping

The need to comply with safety nets doesn’t stop when you leave the grocery store. Once you get home, you need to wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Scrub your hands vigorously, including the back, between the fingers, under the nails, and the wrist. Wash them again after unloading your groceries and keeping these in storage.

Wash your fruits and vegetables under running water to remove any harmful germs on the surface. This also brings down the amount of dirt and germs on your produce to keep it from going bad. You can also wipe down your groceries, such as the ones in cans or glass containers, if it makes you feel more protected. 

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