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Coronavirus Tips: How To Stay Safe While Shopping For Essentials

Team AckoJun 25, 2024

The global outbreak of the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, prompted widespread lockdowns in many countries, including India. Citizens were urged to remain indoors, practise social distancing, and uphold personal hygiene to curb the virus's spread. 

Essential outings, such as grocery shopping, became the primary reason to venture outside during these lockdowns. This shift presented new challenges in navigating local Kirana stores, grocery shops, and supermarkets while adhering to safety protocols. 

To address these challenges, local authorities and food businesses devised innovative methods to maintain social distancing and uphold hygiene standards. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provided guidance on safe shopping practices to mitigate the risk of virus transmission while procuring essential items.




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.

Challenges Faced in Purchasing Essential Products During COVID-19

During the COVID 19 pandemic, buying essential products became increasingly challenging due to various factors. Firstly, panic buying led to shortages of essential items such as toilet paper, hand sanitiser, and disinfectant wipes. This surge in demand overwhelmed supply chains, resulting in empty shelves and limited availability of crucial products.

Lockdown measures implemented by governments worldwide further exacerbated the difficulties in purchasing essential items. Restrictions on movement and store operating hours meant that individuals had limited opportunities to access stores and buy necessities. Additionally, social distancing guidelines resulted in long queues outside supermarkets, creating inconvenience and potential health risks for shoppers.

Demand for Delivery Services

The shift towards online shopping posed its own set of challenges. Increased demand for delivery services strained logistics networks, causing delays in receiving orders. Moreover, online retailers faced difficulties in managing inventory and fulfilling orders promptly, leading to frustration among consumers waiting for essential products.

Supply chain disruptions caused by border closures and transportation restrictions also impacted the availability of essential goods. Many countries rely on imported goods for essential items, and disruptions in international trade routes led to delays and shortages in local markets.

Price Inflation

Price gouging emerged as a significant concern during the pandemic. Sellers took advantage of the high demand for essential products by inflating prices, making them unaffordable for many individuals, particularly those facing financial difficulties due to job losses or reduced income.

Vulnerable populations, such as the elderly and those with underlying health conditions, faced additional challenges in accessing essential products. They often encountered difficulties in physically visiting stores and competing with others for limited supplies.

In response to these challenges, governments and businesses implemented various measures to ensure the availability and accessibility of essential products. These included implementing purchase limits, establishing priority shopping hours for vulnerable populations, and cracking down on price gouging and hoarding.

Frequency of Grocery Shopping During COVID-19

During the COVID-19 pandemic, health authorities and experts advised individuals to minimise trips to the grocery store to reduce the risk of exposure to the virus. Initially, recommendations suggested going grocery shopping once every one to two weeks, depending on individual needs and household size. This approach aimed to limit the frequency of contact with crowded public spaces and reduce the potential for virus transmission. 

Additionally, bulk purchasing during these trips was encouraged to minimise the need for frequent visits. As the situation evolved and vaccination efforts progressed, guidelines regarding the frequency of grocery shopping may have varied based on local transmission rates, government regulations, and personal circumstances. However, the overarching advice remained to plan and consolidate shopping trips whenever possible to prioritise safety and minimise potential exposure to COVID-19.

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.

Steps After Returning from Grocery Shopping During COVID-19

Here are some recommended actions:

Sanitise Hands

Before handling any items, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser with at least 60% alcohol content. This helps remove any germs you may have picked up during your shopping trip.

Disinfect Surfaces

Wipe down commonly touched surfaces such as doorknobs, countertops, and light switches with disinfectant wipes or a cleaning solution containing at least 70% alcohol. This helps eliminate any viruses or bacteria that may have been transferred from your hands or shopping bags.

Unpack Groceries Safely

Remove groceries from bags and containers outside your home if possible, or designate a specific area inside your home for unpacking. Dispose of any unnecessary packaging and wash reusable bags.

Wash Produce

Rinse fruits and vegetables thoroughly under running water, even if they are pre-packaged or labelled as "pre-washed." This helps remove any dirt, bacteria, or viruses that may be present on the surface.

Store Items Properly

Store perishable items in the refrigerator or freezer promptly to maintain their freshness and prevent spoilage.

Wash Hands Again

After unpacking groceries and storing items, wash your hands once more to remove any potential contaminants that may have been transferred during the process.

By following these guidelines, you can help minimise the risk of exposure to COVID-19 and other pathogens after returning from grocery shopping, ensuring your household's safety.

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.

Explore More:


  • Running Essential Errands, Centres for Disease Control and Prevention,

  • Shopping for Food During the COVID-19 Pandemic – Information for Consumers, U.S. Food and Drug Administration,

  • COVID-19 and food safety: guidance for food businesses, World Health Organization,\_Safety-2020.1-eng.pdf

Disclaimer: *Except for exclusions like maternity benefits, undisclosed diseases, etc. Please check policy wordings for more details.
**The content on this page is generic and shared only for informational and explanatory purposes. It is based on industry experience and several secondary sources on the internet; and is subject to changes. Please go through the applicable policy wordings for updated ACKO-centric content and before making any insurance-related decisions.


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