The unprecedented threat from the novel coronavirus pandemic caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus has compelled most countries to lockdown their cities or hotspots. People have been advised to stay at home, practice Social Distancing, and maintain personal hygiene. The nationwide lockdown in India has obliged all citizens to step outside only to buy essentials or during emergencies. This leads to new challenges in the way you shop for groceries in your local Kirana stores, grocery stores or supermarkets.

Coronavirus Tips: How To Stay Safe While Shopping For Essentials - Acko

With new and creative methods, local authorities along with food businesses are finding ways to maintain Social Distancing and personal hygiene. The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), offers tips on how to stay safe while shopping for essentials, especially during this Coronavirus pandemic.

Tips To Keep Safe When Shopping For Essentials During COVID-19:

With a new virus declared a pandemic several might be still figuring out how to maintain the required guidelines while shopping for groceries or other essentials. Here are some important coronavirus tips to keep safe when shopping for essentials during COVID-19:

1) Things To Keep in Mind:

Before you understand the guidelines, below are some of the things to keep in mind before you step outside to buy essentials:

2) Stay Home If You Are Sick:

If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or if you are sick avoid stepping out to purchase groceries or other essentials. The World Health Organization (WHO) has listed symptoms such as cough, fever, shortness of breath as possible COVID-19 infection.

3) Dispose of Expired Foods/Medicines:

Discard expired foods or medicines as this is the best time to get rid of old medicines and old foods which could be a possible source of food poisoning.

4) Buy Food For Two or Three Weeks:

Try and buy foods which can be stored only for two or three weeks. This can eliminate any possible expiry of foods and prevent getting sick.

5) Maintain Safety:

While you make these trips to shop for essentials ensure you maintain a certain amount of safety standards. It will prevent any unnecessary infection and help you stay away from contracting the virus.

Grocery Store Shopping:

Shopping for groceries is not the same as it was during the pre-coronavirus era. There are guidelines which you need to follow strictly so that you reduce the risk of contracting the new virus. Here are the guidelines to be followed for a safe shopping environment:

Plan Ahead:

Make an inventory of what is required for the day, week or the month so that you have it handy when you plan to step outside to buy groceries. Make a list of everything you want to buy as this will avoid repeated visits to the grocery store.

Carry Your Own Bag:

Carry a bag and do not rely on the shop to provide one. Try to step outside only during non-peak hours. Ensure you buy essentials for at least a week or two and they are not expired.

Wear A Mask:

Cover your nose and mouth with a homemade mask when you go out in the public. This will ensure you do not inhale viruses that may travel through an infected person when they cough or sneeze.

Go Alone:

To maintain Social Distancing it is easier if you travel alone and not tag along with others as this will put pressure on the system being followed in public spaces. Do not leave in groups or pairs since it can become difficult in maintaining a long queue due to Social Distancing.

Maintain The 2-Metre Social Distancing Rule:

Droplets or discharges from the mouth or nose released through a cough or a sneeze may contain the virus which can travel up to 2 meters. Ensure you maintain 6 feet distance from other shoppers. Stand in the queue and wait for your turn.

Buy Only What Is Needed:

Do not rush to buy what is not really required. There might be others who need them and hoarding food items will lead to a disturbance in the demand and supply of goods.

Consider Carrying Your Own Disinfectants:

While this approach might not be necessary, you may carry disinfectants like an alcohol-based hand-rub as a precautionary measure. It might not be possible to wash your hands all the time when shopping, hence, a hand sanitizer can be easier to disinfect your hands.

Wash Your Hands:

The most and primary requirement to contain the spread of the deadly COVID-19 virus is to wash hands frequently. This is all the more important when you come back home from grocery shopping. It is recommended that you wash your hands for at least 20 seconds to avoid contracting the virus. Use soap and water to clean your hands thoroughly.

Choose For Contactless Shopping, If Offered:

Contactless shopping has the potential to reduce the spread of the virus. If the option is offered by the local grocery store or supermarket, opt for it as it will avoid going around to purchase essentials. This also helps other shoppers and employees of the store.

Opt For Contactless Payments, If Possible:

New forms of payments such as touchless or contactless machines are available. This will reduce the need to use your hands to input your pin to process the payment. If not, make sure you wash your hands or sanitise it with an alcohol-based hand rub.

Also, read: Coronavirus Helpline Number, India

Getting Deliveries or Takeout Orders:

While it might be important for you to go outside to buy essentials, online deliveries have become a lot more efficient in recent times. It is always better to minimize your trips out in the public. Here are some tips to stay safe while accepting deliveries or takeout orders:

Limit Contact:

If possible pay online when you order online for essentials. Try and accept deliveries without in-person contact as much as possible. Ask the delivery personnel to leave the package in a safe spot outside your house. Try and maintain the 2-metre distance rule while collecting the order.

Wash Your Hands:

Upon receiving the delivery, make sure you wash your hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds or sanitize it with an alcohol-based hand rub with 60% alcohol. This will reduce the possibility of contracting the virus.

Pay Online:

It’s prudent to pay the bill online instead of opting for cash payment at the time of the delivery. It removes the possibilities of catching the virus while transacting with the delivery person.

Also, read: Ways To Remain Healthy During Social Distancing

Frequently Asked Questions:

Here are some of the FAQs about essential precautions for shopping:

What are the safety guidelines to be followed once essentials are brought home?

As per the CDC, follow the below guidelines after you bring the essentials home:

> Rinse vegetables and fruits under running water.
> Clean the lids of canned foods.
> Refrigerate or freeze poultry, meat, eggs, seafood and other perishable goods within two hours.
> Frequently sanitise and close kitchen counters with a disinfectant.
> Consider consuming home-cooked foods to avoid any possible contamination. 

Are foods products prone to getting infected by coronavirus?

At the end of March 2020, there is evidence that coronavirus can be transmitted through food products.

Can I contract coronavirus from food containers or food packaging?

Currently, there is no evidence that coronavirus can be found on food containers or food packaging. However, you need to wash your hands with soap and water to ensure you eliminate any viral infection.

Are there any coronavirus guidelines for grocery stores, restaurants or manufacturers of essentials goods?

The World Health Organization (WHO) has listed guidelines for food businesses especially during this time of the coronavirus pandemic.

Is there a risk of COVID-19 infection resulting from open food displays?

The WHO states that currently there is no scientific evidence about possible contamination of the COVID-19 virus in open food displays.

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References:

  • Running Essential Errands, Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/essential-goods-services.html
  • Shopping for Food During the COVID-19 Pandemic – Information for Consumers, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, https://www.fda.gov/food/food-safety-during-emergencies/shopping-food-during-covid-19-pandemic-information-consumers
  • COVID-19 and food safety: guidance for food businesses, World Health Organization, https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/331705/WHO-2019-nCoV-Food_Safety-2020.1-eng.pdf

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