As we hide in our homes from the Coronavirus, many people find themselves exiting their homes exclusively to pick up the necessities – food, personal hygiene products, and medicine. And while many grocery shops will limit the number of people they allow in to prevent overcrowded areas, this is hardly enough to make supermarkets and shops a safe space for shoppers, especially since we now know that the Sars-CoV-2 can linger on some surfaces for days. When you exit your home to shop for food or pick up groceries you ordered, it’s useful to keep these 5 rules in mind to stay safe.
1. Keep Your Hands Clean
Wash your hands as often as you can when you’re outside of your home, or alternatively, use a hand sanitizer of over 65% alcohol when you’re outdoors. Many supermarkets have hand sanitizer stations these days, and we recommend you take advantage of them as you traverse the shopping aisles.Another idea is to use plastic or latex gloves while you’re shopping, but make no mistake – disinfecting gloves with hand sanitizer or washing them is just as important as it is to wash your hands because gloves are just as likely to spread germs as your hands are. Also, make sure not to touch your face, whether you’re wearing gloves or not, which is more easily said than done, we know. Discard the gloves immediately upon returning home if you decide to wear them, and wash your hands thoroughly and properly right away to avoid the germs from spreading through your home.
2. Know When to Shop
Avoiding the days of the week and hours when most people go shopping is a safe and clever strategy. Many supermarkets offer special shopping hours for seniors and immunocompromised people, which usually fall to the morning hours when the shop is fully stocked and the cleanest. If you fall under one of those categories, take advantage of the option.
If, however, you don’t fall into the high-risk group, avoiding peak hours is probably your best bet. The afternoon on weekends and between 4-6 PM on weekdays are usually the peak hours for grocery shopping. You can also opt for home delivery if it’s available for you, but keep in mind that even that may be risky, so wash your hands thoroughly after unpacking the groceries.
3. When in the Shop, Be Wary of Surfaces Many People Touch
Shopping carts, handles in the freezer aisle, doorknobs, the cashier – all these and many other surfaces in the grocery store are high-risk, since most shoppers use them. It’s best to clean these with a disinfectant wipe and apply hand sanitizer after using them. It’s a good habit to carry your own disinfectant wipes and sanitizer to be able to always clean your hands and the surroundings when you’re in a pu
There is no evidence that the virus can survive on unpackaged foods, but fruit and vegetables with smooth surfaces, such as apples and tomatoes, may be capable of carrying the virus, so wash these foods thoroughly with hot water before eating them, or even better – cook the foods – a guaranteed method of killing the virus.
4. Keep a Distance
Since many foods can be low in stock in shops these days, it may be tempting to get in there and snatch the last carton of eggs or loaf of bread, even if it means finding your way through a crowded space. Remember, the highest likelihood of getting COVID-19 comes from contact or proximity with infected individuals, so keeping a distance of 6-8 feet (2-3 meters) from other people, cashiers and supermarket workers included, is necessary.
The same goes for delivery personnel – ask the person delivering groceries or takeout food for you to leave it at the door, if possible, and avoid contact as much as possible.
5. How to Unpack the Groceries Safely
Whether or not you had the food delivered or brought it yourself, it’s necessary to be systematic and make sure you, your home and the groceries are germ-free once you’re done unpacking. We know that the Coronavirus can linger on plastic surfaces for up to 2-3 days and up to 24 hours on cardboard, so getting rid of excessive packaging is a good way to protect yourself.
Decant foods into jars, remove plastic packaging from fruit and vegetables. Needless to say, it’s also best to wash your hands before touching the shopping bags, when you’re done unpacking and after you’ve discarded the shopping bags and excess packaging into the trash.
If you’re using reusable bags, it’s best to wash them more often at temperatures exceeding 20°C (68°F). We’d even advise wiping down the place where you left the shopping bags with a disinfectant wipe once you’re done unpacking.