With social distancing and other orders currently in place in our communities to fight COVID-19, it seems like grocery shopping is one of the only normal activities we are still doing. However, when at the grocery store in the coming weeks, it is important to proceed with extra caution before, during and after your trip.
Here are some important steps to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 while getting the food and household items you and your family need.
Going to the store
If you are sick, stay home
The most important tip of all – stay home if you are sick! Have a friend or family member pick up items for you or use grocery delivery. Have items left at your door instead of handed to you when they are dropped off.
Prepare before you go
To avoid visiting unnecessary spots in the store, make a list before your visit. This will help reduce the amount of time you spend in the store. Also, designate one person in your household to go to the store. Don’t go in a large group and don’t bring any kids.
Before heading to the store, be sure to wash your hands. Hand washing helps prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other germs during your visit.
Sanitize cart and basket handles
These surfaces can spread germs if they are not cleaned consistently. Use store-provided wipes to sanitize basket and cart handles before you use them. It might be a good idea to bring your own wipes in case the store runs out of theirs.
Keep your space
Continue to practice social distancing at the store by staying at least six feet away from others. Also, try to go to the stores during hours when it is less crowded.
Don’t touch items you don’t need
COVID-19 can spread from surfaces to people. Therefore, it is important to limit the number of items you touch while at the store. With produce, avoid picking up multiple pieces before selecting one. Use your eyes to judge which pieces are ripe.
For packaged items, choose the item at the front of the shelf. If there is an item you need that is not at the front of the shelf, find it visually and then reach for that specific item. This helps you avoid shuffling boxes and packages around.
Grocery delivery tips
Curbside pickup services
Pickup services are a great way you can get the grocery items you need while avoiding the germs inside the store. However, you’ll still need to avoid direct contact with others. Instead of having a grocery store employee hand you your bags, have them place them directly in your vehicle.
Home delivery services
Food delivery is another great tool, but you’ll still need to use it with caution. Before your groceries arrive, leave a note requesting your items be left at your door. This will allow you to avoid direct contact with the delivery person.
Tipping grocery delivery people online instead of handing them cash also helps you avoid close contact. Many delivery websites and apps offer this option, and it is added to your order total.
Putting your groceries away
Wash your hands
Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds immediately after coming home from the store as well as after putting groceries away. This will kill any germs you have been exposed to while touching surfaces during your visit.
In addition to washing your hands when you get home, it is also a good idea to have hand sanitizer in your car to use directly after your trip.
Sanitize counters after putting groceries away
If you set your groceries down on the counter, clean and disinfect the surface after all items and bags are put away. It is also a good idea to wipe down all food containers, boxes and packages with a disinfecting wipe.
Sanitize and wash reusable bags
If you shop with reusable grocery bags, make sure to clean them after each store visit. Canvas bags can be cleaned in a washing machine. Nylon and recycled plastic bags can be washed with soap and water. Insulated bags can be wiped down with disinfecting wipes.
Wash produce items
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, COVID-19 is not likely to be transmitted through food itself. However, it is still a good idea to wash these items as they could have been touched by other individuals at the store.
If you have produce that won’t be cooked before eating, use water to wash it thoroughly. To be extra cautious, you can scrub these items will a small brush and even apply a little soap. Scrub hard, but not so hard that you damage the produce.
Stay updated on what Mercy Health is doing related to COVID-19.
Call our 24/7 COVID-19 Hotline at 888-700-9011 for questions and guidance.