You need to remain in lockdown. But you also need to eat. Here’s our advice on how to do your food shopping safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.
During lockdown, our freedom of movement has been restricted while we all work together to help slow the spread of COVID-19. It’s important to adhere to these regulations and only go out when absolutely necessary. This includes doing your food shopping and picking up medical supplies, including prescriptions. But how can you ensure you stay as safe as possible while out and about? Following these simple guidelines will help…
Book online deliveries where possible
It goes without saying that ordering your groceries online for delivery is one of the safest ways you can do your food shopping. Fewer people out and about on the streets and in shops means there’s less chance for people to pass on and contract COVID-19, so taking yourself out of the equation will be incredibly helpful in the fight against the virus.
Of course, booking an online delivery slot is easier said than done during this time of unprecedented demand, but if you persevere, you could get lucky.
Observe social distancing
Supermarkets and shops are working hard to help you observe social distancing rules, so be patient while shopping. You may find yourself in a queue to get in, as stores limit the number of customers allowed inside at any given time. While queuing, stay two metres (six feet) away from the person in front of you. Once inside the shop, aim to stay away from those around you, including staff.
When visiting the shops, go alone where possible, rather than with other members of your household. This limits the number of people out and about. Don’t arrange to meet friends or family who live outside of your household while shopping, and only stay out as long as is necessary. Many supermarkets have now imposed this rule, allowing only one member of a household into the shop at a time.
Only buy what you need
Pasta and loo roll shortages are still at the forefront of people’s minds. It’s panic buying that’s creating shortages, so do your bit and only purchase what you need. Again, many shops have imposed limits on how many items you can buy when it comes to in-demand products, such as hand wash, hand sanitiser, toilet roll and pasta, so be polite and observe these, to ensure everyone can get what they need.
Many shops have set aside shopping hours purely for key workers, the elderly and vulnerable members of society, to ensure they can access what they need as safely as possible. Check when these hours are before you leave home, so you don’t get caught out when you arrive at the shops, and always respect these rules. They are there to help keep the most vulnerable members of our society safe, so be considerate.
Wash your hands
It goes without saying that, while shopping, you will come into contact with a lot of surfaces touched by many people. From door handles, to shelves, to trolleys, to chip & pin machines, all may be secretly harbouring COVID-19, so it’s important to wash your hands thoroughly (following the 20-second rule) both before and after doing your shopping. Some supermarkets are offering hand sanitiser before entering, and are also cleaning shopping trollies and baskets in-between customer use.
You could also wear gloves while you shop, to help keep yourself safe.
To wear a mask or not?
Scientific evidence supporting the use of face masks is weak. As it currently stands, people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland have not been advised to wear face masks while out and about. In Scotland, people are being advised to wear face coverings, such as a scarf or cloth, rather than medical grade face masks, but this is recommended rather than compulsory.
The World Health Organisation states you only need to wear a mask:
- If you are coughing, sneezing or showing signs of COVID-19
- If you are caring for someone with COVID-19
Masks are not recommended for general use because:
- They may offer a false sense of security
- Frequent and thorough hand washing, alongside social distancing, has been shown to be more effective at stopping the spread of COVID-19
In fact, the European Centre for Disease Prevention & Control has stated that the use of face masks in the community should be considered only as a complementary measure and not a replacement for established preventive measures, which include social distancing, meticulous hand washing, and avoiding touching face, nose, eyes and mouth.
So, whether you wear a face covering or not is currently your personal choice. If using a homemade reusable mask, make sure you wash it in the machine after every use, and don’t cover the faces of babies and infants under two years of age.