Different sources and doctors have different takes on the best way to go grocery shopping during COVID-19, but most agree that when you go shopping, you can’t be too careful.
Follow these practical tips when you go shopping for food during the COVID-19 lockdown.
South Africa has been under lockdown since President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a 21-day national lockdown from midnight the 26th of March to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus.
While many people stockpiled (stop that) the majority of us only have supplies for a few days, especially when it comes to food.
When you do find yourself venturing out for food you might find it a little bit intimidating. Follow these practical tips to feel more prepared and protect yourself:
Psychology Today sums it up nicely and gives important advice to follow when grocery shopping below.
The best way to deal with our emotions is to turn anxiety into controllable actions that will protect us, even as more and more people in our town, across our country, and around the world get infected with the COVID-19.
Given how long the virus can stay in the air, on metal, plastic and cardboard, here are controllable actions that you can take when you visit the shops for food or other necessities:
- Wear clothes and shoes that you don’t normally wear inside the house – this way you can remove and wash them as soon as you return home.
- Take any disinfectant or wipes that you may have so that you can disinfect the handle of your basket or trolley when you get to the store. Even better, bring your own big reusable shopping bag and put everything you want to buy in that bag (remember to wash your reusable shopping bags). Try making this free crochet shopping bag.
- Stay more than 1.5m away from everyone and if people get closer to you, don’t hesitate to distance yourself from them or to ask people politely to respect your space. Distancing is one of the most important rules to follow in a lockdown.
- Grab the items that you need and try not to touch any items that you aren’t going to buy.
- When queueing, maintain the 1.5m rule. If people don’t respect that distance and if they are not from the same family, remind them of proper distancing.
- Although it seems very hard, don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth until your fingers are disinfected or washed with soap and water.
- Try paying with a debit or a credit card if you can (coins and notes handed back to you could have been handled by sick people) and wipe down the keypad of the speed point machine if you have to punch in your pin.
- When back in your car, spray disinfectant on your hands.
- When you arrive home, remove your shoes at the entrance of your home and then immediately wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. Clean the door handle that you used to come in with as well.
- Wipe your kitchen table with disinfectant before placing the items you purchased on it.
- Wipe every cardboard, glass and plastic container you bought with disinfectant before placing them on a shelf, or in your fridge or your freezer.
- Preferably cook the vegetables you purchased and wash all fruits with soap and water then rinse well before you put them in your fridge.
- Disinfect door handles, fridge, and freezer handles. Wipe your kitchen table again.
- Change clothes. Put on safe house clothes and if you think you were exposed to anybody coughing or sneezing, wash the clothes you wore when you went to the shops.
- Disinfect the soles of the shoes you wore to the shops (if infected people coughed, droplets of viruses will have been projected in the air and will be on the floor or ground outside. Disinfecting the soles of your outdoors shoes will kill viruses).
- To be extra safe, take a shower, wash your hair with shampoo and make sure you wash your face thoroughly with soap and water. Rinse well. It is now okay to touch your eyes, nose or mouth.
- Relax and reward yourself for having taken control of your life, your health and your safety.
In a video with more than 20,000,000 views, a Michigan doctor gave his advice for grocery shopping and unloading safely:
Imagine that the groceries you have are covered in glitter and your goal at the end of this is to not have any glitter in your house, on your hands, or especially on your face. And imagine that disinfectants and soap have the power to dissolve that glitter.
- Once you get home, if possible, leave groceries outside for three days to ensure the coronavirus dies before you bring them inside. Where that’s not possible, spend a few extra minutes to divide your counter to designate one side as clean and make sure you disinfect it. Keep the groceries on the other side until you clean them.
- For items like fruits and vegetables that come on their own, treat them like your hands and put them in soapy water for 20 seconds.
- For items in boxes, those could’ve touched a lot of hands during distribution. Simply take them out and throw away the outer package.
- For any other items, wipe them down with a household cleaner, alcohol or wipe.
“Anything you’re not cooking, it’s a great idea to wash off your food with soap and water,” Baptist Hospital infectious disease specialist Dr. Stephen Threlkeld said.
Don’t leave your house if you are feeling sick or have been feeling under the weather for a few days and if you do feel well enough to go to leave the house and go to the shops, limit your trips and stay inside.