One of the most common reasons why people go out of their houses despite the enhanced community quarantine is the fact that they have to go to the supermarket to buy food and supplies. Luckily, supermarkets are open, albeit for a limited time and many are implementing certain guidelines that ensure that the customers and their employees are safe from coronavirus while shopping.
Because we are battling an invisible enemy, you’ll need to do more than just make a grocery list the next time you go on your supplies run. Here is everything you need to know when you go out to ensure a safe and efficient food supply run:
PLAN YOUR VISIT BEFORE GOING SHOPPING
“This is not the time to do impulsive shopping,” says Dr. June McKoy, associate professor of medicine at Northwestern Medicine.
So when you plan on going to the supermarket, make your list and do your errands as fast as possible with fewer contacts with people and surfaces as possible.
Part of that approach means visiting stores during off-peak hours when fewer customers are present, added McKoy. The same goes for pharmacies, where McKoy suggests arriving early in the morning to beat crowds. And while you’re at it, now is also the time to ask your health care provider about getting a 90-day supply of medications to limit future outings for refills.
BRING A MASK
Wearing a mask is now a standard preventive measure. This is to make sure that any possibility of transmitting the virus is limited. Some establishments have adopted this policy and require people to wear one before they are allowed inside the premises. So aside from bringing your eco-friendly bags, bring and wear a mask, too.
PRACTICE PHYSICAL DISTANCING
While at the supermarket, keep in mind the prescribed social distancing measures. This means that you have to maintain approximately six feet or two-meter distance from another person. Many establishments have implemented this including in the crowd and lines. Some supermarkets had drawn lines on the floor to mark the 2-meter distances.
The Center for Disease Control reports: “It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their mouth, nose or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.”
So Chapman recommends that when going out, you should that you maintain distance from others.
BE PREPARED FOR LONG LINES
To comply with all the rules and measures to keep you safe, supermarkets have also started to limit the number of people inside their supermarkets. And because there are fewer operating establishments, the lines to the entrance and the cash registers will be longer than usual. You may have to wait even longer so bring a book or head out with a fully charged phone so you can play a game or watch videos while you wait.
AVOID PANIC BUYING OR HOARDING
To cope with the supply chain disruption, stores are encouraging customers to buy only what they need and restricting purchases to ensure there are enough supplies for everyone.
Last March 19, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) released a memo limiting how much the number of basic goods each person can buy.
The department also established a price freeze on basic goods, which is automatic when a state of calamity has been declared.
When you see empty shelves in the supermarket, don’t panic. It doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s a shortage of food and supplies. The stores and supply chains simply need to catch up with increased demand.
Greg Ferrara, president of the National Grocers Association in the United States Empty reassured the customers: “Our supply chain is experiencing a truly unprecedented event with this crisis. We have never seen levels like this across the United States. And that’s impacting supply chains”.
“So, when you go into a store, if you see empty shelves, it’s taking us a while to get the product flowing through the supply chain back to the stores. But it is coming. It is coming through our warehouses. It is coming to the stores. There is plenty of supply in the supply chain,” he explained.
GO AHEAD AND BUY FRESH PRODUCE
You don’t have to survive the enhanced community quarantine on canned and preserved goods alone. The supermarkets and grocery stores carry fresh produce to give you the healthy nutrients that you will need.
It is a valid concern if you’re worried that fresh food such as fruits and vegetables might be contaminated. However, there is no evidence indicating that the virus can be transmitted through food.
Still, you can practice your usual food safety procedures just to be on the safe side.
WHEN YOU GET HOME, DISINFECT YOURSELF AND THE SURFACES YOU TOUCHED
Using alcohol and wearing a mask is not enough to ensure that you will be safe from contamination. This is because your hands will have to touch or hold contaminated items when you go grocery shopping.
Therefore, you should also disinfect the car seats and the handles you touch each time you enter and exit your vehicle. You should also sanitize your wallet, bag, and your hands again especially after handling money!
While supermarkets are doing their part in sanitizing its stores and equipment, there is no harm in taking the extra precaution, yourself.
WASH THE PACKAGING, TOO
When you get home, be sure to disinfect the grocery bags before bringing them inside the house.
Before you put the cans, bottles, and packages away to the cupboards, wash them with soap and water. That’s because COVID-19 virus may contaminate cans and other containers as it sits on supermarket shelves. Just rinse them like how you do with fresh produce before prepping and eating.
Some packaging may not survive a thorough washing, such as cardboard. So to virus from transferring on your food, just transfer them to reusable jars and containers. Also, label each item so you know exactly what you’re reaching for.
The best weapon we have against this pandemic is personal hygiene and a well-informed and calm mind. Remember, we can avoid Coronavirus while shopping if we will take all the necessary precautions; and in turn, we can protect our loved ones as well.