As the novel coronavirus continues to spread, almost half of all Americans are living under “shelter in place” orders. Those orders have also closed most non-essential businesses, including bars and restaurants. When we must leave our homes for essentials, we’re supposed to practice safe “social distancing” — staying at least six feet from one another at all times. While these restrictions aren’t the least bit convenient, they do serve an important (and potentially life-saving) purpose. To make your experience and the experience of others a bit less stressful, we’ve compiled a list of the five best practices for safe shopping.
1. Order from home
When you must go out, this is the best way to minimize contact with other people. Order ahead, pay in advance and dart in to pick up your purchases. Most stores are now offering this as an option, as well as curb-side delivery, and it’s by far the safest bet for everyone—buyer, shoppers and merchants. Now is not the best time to take leisurely strolls through the isles. The motto: Get in and get out! And, when you do get home, don’t forget to take your shoes off, wash your hands, disinfect where necessary and jump in the shower!
2. Plan ahead of time
Don’t wait until the pantry and fridge are bare before heading out to restock…shopping will take too long when you finally do get there. Planning ahead will give you flexibility if the store happens to be crowded or if stocks are running low (e.g., butter, bread, etc.). One suggestion is to plan meals over the weekend when stores are most crowded and then go later during the week Give yourself a few different options throughout the week of when you’re able to shop so there’s no panic or added stress.
3. Meal prep
Knowing what will be on the menu before you get to the store will significantly cut down on the time you’ll be there shopping. Similarly, if you or someone in your household has any food restrictions or allergies, try to do your research at home before heading to the store. For example, if you are allergic to peanuts, look up the names of healthy alternatives and write them down. This way you’re not having to put yourself at risk (or anyone else) by reading lengthy food labels in grocery store aisles.
4. Disinfecting wipes
Stores are running low on disinfecting wipes just like we are in our homes. If you have them, bring your own to the store so that when you get there you can wipe down the cart’s handle — the central deposit area for bacteria. Additionally, wipe down touch screens, buttons as well as scanner guns at the self-checkouts. It is currently estimated that the virus can last up to 72 hours on plastic or stainless steel. For those of you using reusable bags (such as cotton), make sure to wash and dry them thoroughly after each use.
5. Stay home as much as possible.
It’s an unfortunate state of affairs when the greatest risk to our health or the health of someone else emanates from simply coming into contact with another person. The best thing we can do right now is to obey orders and stay at home as much as possible. It may not be fun but it is essential.
Remember, we are all going through this together. Take this one day at a time, be kind to yourself (cut yourself some slack), and be kind to your neighbor too. Rest assured that this too shall pass (2 Corinthians 4:17-18). Oh, and one last thing…don’t forget the ice cream!