Grocery Shopping Tips During The COVID-19 Pandemic

There will be times where making a supply run during the enhanced community quarantine is necessary. These are very crucial moments where safety precautions have to be strictly followed to avoid catching and spreading the 2019 coronavirus.

If you are the designated person in your household to shop outside for food, medicine, and supplies, here are some grocery safety tips to keep yourself and your household protected from falling sick due to COVID-19.

1. Wear a mask

Previously, health experts advised healthy people against wearing masks and reserve them for patients and frontliners; now everyone is required to wear one to keep asymptomatic people from spreading the virus. So make sure you wear one and observe the following:

  • A cloth, handmade, surgical, or N95 mask will do
  • Wash your hands before you put your mask on 
  • Make sure there are no gaps between your face and the mask 
  • Do not touch your mask. If you do, clean your hands with either soap and water or an alcohol-based cleaner
  • When you’re done, remove the mask by unclipping the ear loop from your ears; never touch the front side 
  • Dispose the used mask properly—and more important, never reuse single-use masks 
  • Wash your hands thoroughly 
  • If you’re using cloth masks, treat them as clothes and disinfect them immediately

2. Accessorize for maximum coverage

Wear glasses, visors, and headgear. You can even use other substitutes like sunglasses, goggles, or even welding glasses to protect your eyes.

3. Wear protective clothing

Don’t take your chances even with the way you dress up. If you’re going outside, make sure your skin is protected.

What you can do best is wear clothes that can cover your legs and arms. It’s not hoodie season so maybe a rash guard will do. How about those old jogging pants you swore you would wear to the gym?

When you get back home from the grocery store, take them off and wash them as soon as possible. Use soap and bleach (provided that you read handling instructions for your clothes) to disinfect.

4. Ditch canvas tote bags (for now)

On a regular day, we would strongly encourage the use of any kind of tote bags to minimize plastic consumption. However, extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures—and your favorite tote bags aren’t spared from the COVID-19 situation.

For grocery shopping, you may want to avoid using canvas-based totes since they tend to accumulate moisture, making them easy breeding ground for all things nasty.

If possible, use resealable bags for your produce and bring nylon-based tote bags with you. Keep your products compartmentalized to avoid food contamination.

If bringing a canvas bag is unavoidable, disinfect it with bleach and soap when you get home. 

(Read: 11 Online Groceries That Deliver To Your Home)

5. Make a portable alcohol sprayer

Having an alcohol with you at all times can lower your risk of contracting the coronavirus. However, alcohol bottles aren’t really portable and there is another way to maximize your bottle for outdoor use.

Enter the atomizer.

If you have old perfume bottles that are reusable, sterilize them and refill them with alcohol. Instead of directly pouring them in your hands, you can save tons by merely spraying your hands with the right amount. In addition, it makes your alcohol portable and you can clean your hands at any given time.

6. Go cashless

In one of our previous articles, the World Health Organization (WHO) said that it may be possible for banknotes to transmit the coronavirus. That doesn’t mean you should burn your money or invest in sterilizing ultraviolet lamps. The safest thing to do is go cashless.

There are many ways to enjoy contactless payment: You can use mobile wallets, credit/debit card transactions, grocery delivery services, among others. The biggest groceries in the country allow payment through credit or debit card so you’ll be fine.

For places that still rely heavily on cash, such as wet markets and flea markets, the best protection you can give to yourself is to wash your hands and/or using alcohol after handling money.

7. Create a ‘disinfecting welcome mat’

You know those fabric mats you’ve been using for quite some time now? It’s time to retire them in exchange of a nylon mesh mat. But it doesn’t stop there: You need to turn those mats into cleaning agents to lower your risk of COVID-19 infection. To make a disinfecting mat:

  • Get a container where that can fit your nylon mat.
  • Pour soap, some water, and bleach.
  • Step on it several times until the mixture is agitated and there is bubble formation.

You can use this to disinfect your shoes or slippers before you enter your house.

Nothing says “welcome home” like your feet smelling clean before you enter the house.

…or just leave your shoes outside

According to the Medical City, it has been discovered that the coronavirus can survive for up to nine hours on shoes and pavements. They advise using only one pair of shoes for outdoor use.

8. Take a bath immediately

Alcohol is not enough. As soon as you get home from the grocery or drugstore, go straight to the bathroom, take a thorough bath, and don’t touch anything until you’re squeaky clean. Use fresh towels and avoid using ones that are exposed outside.

(Read: Food Delivery: These Restaurants In Manila Are Open During The Quarantine)

9. Practice proper social distancing outside

The main way for COVID-19 to spread is through contact with respiratory droplets through coughing and sneezing. The United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say these infectious droplets can travel up to six feet (or almost two meters if you can’t think in imperial measurements).

This is why experts recommend social distancing inside and outside the supermarket. Part of the social distancing guidelines is that you want to create a radius big enough where respiratory droplets cannot reach you.

If you’re going out to the grocery, avoid crowded areas and give others around you enough space. Do not touch people (no matter your relationship with them) and keep a certain distance when engaging socially. If someone’s trying to get close to you, call them out.

When lining up at groceries, give yourself at least one meter each, both in front and behind you. Think of the distance between you and the next shopper should be as big as a large supermarket cart—and some more.

10. Avoid touching surfaces

Now this is pretty self-explanatory. But if you can’t help but try to feel fruits or the cold metal handrails, here’s a nifty tip: Put your hands in your pockets and only take them out when you need to carry something. And if you touch something, use your alcohol spray as soon as possible.

Have more safety tips for grocery shoppers? Share them in the comments.