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Coronavirus Guide: Staying Safe While Grocery Shopping During the Pandemic

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Every state in America has reported evidence to support that they are many confirmed cases of COVID-19, the dangerous illness contracted by the novel coronavirus. Federal, state, and local governments are issuing public health protective orders and stay home curfews to keep people safe and avoid community spread of the virus. Still, people have to eat to stay alive. So, the question becomes: How can you safely buy the essentials you need without potentially infecting yourself and your family with the coronavirus?

While there are risks involved in taking a trip to your local grocery store, there are ways to lower those risks or even eliminate them entirely. Safety practices to avoid germs associated with COVID-19 begin the moment you exit your car and end after you’ve safely put all of your groceries away. These actions are a little time-consuming, but when combined with other precautions, they can give you a better chance of avoiding the coronavirus entirely. Per infectious disease specialist guidelines remember to wash hands with soap and water as frequently as possible since evidence to support this will help to prevent the spread of coronavirus cases.

When You Should Avoid a Shopping Trip

Coronavirus is a highly contagious illness, so avoiding germs is essential. Additionally, it is every person’s duty to avoid contributing to the spread of the virus as much as possible. Unfortunately, there are certain situations when you shouldn’t leave your home at all–even to purchase essentials like food and toilet paper (if it’s available).

  • Avoid grocery shopping if you have respiratory symptoms.
  • Do not leave your home if you’re waiting for results from a coronavirus test or have tested positive.
  • Skip grocery shopping if members of your household are sick.
  • It’s best to avoid the grocery store if you’re considered at high risk for complications due to coronavirus.

If you’re experiencing reasons you shouldn’t take care of your own grocery shopping, ask a friend or family member if they can pick up items for you. Look into shopping hours and delivery options for obtaining your groceries and medications. Another great option is to contact your town government to learn about potential emergency options that will send volunteers to deliver essentials like food and medicine.

Safety Practices for Your Trip to the Grocery Store

Maybe your stock of supplies is running low or maybe you simply don’t have the funds to shop for more than a week’s worth of groceries at a time. Either way, it’s time to leave your home for a supply run. These tips will help you avoid exposure to germs during your trip to the store.

  • Bring a paper shopping list (so you can trash it after shopping) and shop for two weeks supply at a time if you can.
  • Shop alone if possible limiting the number of people shopping will help to avoid the spread of germs to additional members of your family and reduce traffic inside the store.
  • Practice social distancing as soon as you leave your car. Remain at least six feet away from people in the parking lot, while shopping and when standing in the checkout line. Avoid crowded aisles and wait patiently for high-demand items.
  • Use disinfectant wipes (often supplied by the store) to wipe down your shopping cart or basket before you begin shopping.
  • Avoid touching surfaces you don’t need to touch. Commit to buying an item before grabbing it off the shelf and only touch the one you plan to buy.
  • If you have access to hand sanitizer, bring it with you to the store and use it frequently, especially after touching high traffic items like handles.
  • If it’s available, use hand sanitizer before getting back into your car.
  • While shopping don’t rub your eyes or touch your face, and if you cough or sneeze please cover your mouth and immediately sanitize your hands when possible.

How to Disinfect Your Groceries When You Get Home

While it’s true that the most likely way to catch the virus is person-to-person contact, coronavirus germs can live on surfaces outside the body. The virus can exist for up to 72 hours on stainless steel and plastic, up to 96 hours on glass, and up to 24 hours on cardboard. These food safety tips can help you avoid germs that live on the packaging of the food you will eat.

  • As you unpack and sanitize your groceries, think of coronavirus germs like loose dust covering your packages. You want to safely remove the dust without contaminating your hands, face, or food.
  • If you don’t need them immediately, leave groceries in your garage or on the porch for at least three days.
  • Sanitize a counter or table as a workspace for incoming groceries. Use one side for groceries immediately when you bring them in. Sanitized groceries will go on the other side.
  • Completely remove excess packaging (like a cereal box or cardboard box from frozen pizza). The plastic packaging inside likely hasn’t been touched for several days.
  • Disinfect plastic packaging before putting items away.
  • Items can also be dumped into clean containers you already have in your kitchen.
  • Thick packaging like thick plastic and glass can be sprayed directly with disinfectant.
  • Wash unpackaged fruits and vegetables in the same way you wash your hands. Submerge items in soapy water, scrub for at least 20 seconds and rinse thoroughly.
  • If you use cloth bags, take them outside after unpacking your groceries.

YouTube video

This video was posted by Dr. Jeffrey J. Vanwingen, MD. Here is his website if you would like to know more  www.fmsgr.com

Frequently Asked Questions About Grocery Shopping During the Coronavirus Pandemic

A cashier is wearing a protective face mask and gloves while scanning items.

What Are the Rules of Safe Shopping During the Coronavirus Pandemic?

Take as many precautions as possible to stay safe and avoid spreading germs to others. Practice social distancing, use disinfectant and hand sanitizer frequently, and disinfect groceries and wash your hands upon arriving home.

How Do I Make Sure the Food I Ordered Is Safe From Coronavirus?

When ordering take-out, the packaging is more of a concern than the actual food you intend to eat. To avoid germs, transfer your food to clean plates without touching the clean food to the outside of the container or wrapper. Order hot food when possible and reheat to help eliminate germs.

How Should I Clean My Groceries After Shopping?

Eliminate excess packaging, disinfect packages you need to keep and wash fruit and vegetables in the same manner as you wash your hands.

Should I Use Self-Checkout?

Self-checkout is a great way to avoid personal contact with a cashier. It also means you’ll bag your own groceries which means your packages and grocery bags will have fewer opportunities to become contaminated.

Are Grocery Delivery Services Safe?

Delivery services are much safer than a trip to the store. However, you have to remember that your groceries are only as clean as the hands of those who packaged them. Therefore, it’s still important to have your groceries delivered outside and disinfect them when you bring the food package once inside your home.


The COVID-19 pandemic is an uncertain time for everyone and it’s natural to feel anxious about the dangers associated with the virus. As everyone works together to practice safety precautions, we all become a little more confident and safe. Help stop the spread and flatten the curve by protecting your family from germs with safety-conscious practices and appropriate social distancing. For More information from health officials visit centers for disease control (CDC)


If you enjoyed this article Check out our additional blog on 2020 Ultimate Spring Home Maintenance Checklist 

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