How to Shop Safely During a Pandemic

Now is not the time to casually stroll through the grocery store, come prepared.

Photo by Hanson Lu on Unsplash

Most states and municipalities have shelter-in-place or similar orders in effect by now. Where I live, our state mandated ‘Stay at home’ order goes into effect at 1700 today. Unsurprisingly, this caused a rash of last-minute trips to the grocery stores over the weekend. Pandemic panic shopping has been a thing since people realized quarantine was imminent. There’s a right way and a wrong way to pandemic shop.

Plan ahead

It’s difficult to know what your local stores will have in these troubling times. People have continued to deplete shelves faster than stores can get new product and restock.

But it’s still a good idea to plan ahead.

Before you leave your home, make a list of essential items you need. Now is the time to begin meal planning if you don’t already do this.

Be prepared to shop for alternatives, as it’s likely your first choice may not be available.

Designate one family member to do the shopping. Now is not the time to make this a family outing. The less people going out, the faster we flatten the curve of this virus and get back to normal.

Bring your own supplies

Before this pandemic, most stores had sanitizing wipes available, but they’re being depleted quickly. Bring your own so you can wipe down the cart before using.

Wearing gloves is pointless.

It’s a waste of gloves that could be used for something useful. If you’re wearing gloves, you’re cross contaminating each time you touch something. It’s more effective to wash your hands or use hand sanitizer once you finish your shopping.

Get in and get out

This is not a leisurely trip. The people working in the stores are putting themselves at risk by being there each day, providing an essential service. It isn’t fair to them or the other shoppers for people to take their time leisurely walking around the store.

It’s understandable people want to get out of the house and do something different. Cabin fever is a real thing. But your trip to the grocery store is not the time to stretch your legs.

You have a mission. Get what you need, that’s available, and get out.

Remember your manners

This is a trying time for everyone and emotions are running high. But it’s also a time to remember our manners. The store employees are not responsible for any rules enacted regarding limits on items. They’re not responsible for other shoppers who’ve over bought. They’re not responsible for being out of something you need.

We’re all in this together. Becoming angry and lashing out at others isn’t going to make this any better. In fact, it serves no purpose other than making you feel bad and harming someone else.

Most stores restock overnight. If there are essential items you truly need, try arriving as soon as your local store opens. Be sure to check if they’re offering early shopping for the elderly. If you’re not in that population, don’t shop during those times.

Returning home

Once you’ve arrived home with your purchases, unpack everything and begin wiping down what you can. Using a sanitizing wipe, wipe down canned goods, boxes (without over saturating), anything that can be easily sanitized. Wash fruits and vegetables (when appropriate) with mild soap and water, using a vegetable scrub brush if possible.

I would not recommend saving any plastic grocery bags, just in case.

When you’re finished, wash your hands thoroughly.

For more information, follow the CDC guidelines. Let’s use common sense and have consideration for our fellow humans.

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