While it is safe to stay home during this pandemic, we may have to go outside to buy groceries and other essential items. Taking preventive measures is very critical to prevent COVID-19 infection when we go out. SARS-CoV-2 spreads commonly from droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes within six feet of healthy individuals. These infectious droplets can settle down on objects and food items. When a healthy individual touches these contaminated objects and touches his or her face, the virus can spread. Rarely, virus can spread through the air. With certain precautions, shopping can be done safely while preventing COVID-19 infection.
Avoid frequent shopping: Do not venture out unless it is really needed. Try to get all the essential items all at once. The more you go outside for shopping, the risk of contracting the infection is higher.
Wear a face mask: A regular face mask is sufficient. If you don’t have a face mask, a homemade mask, or a cotton cloth wrapped around face in multiple layers should help. N95 mask is not required to prevent infection in a community setting.
Social distancing: It is critical to maintain social distancing anytime when you are outside. Maintain 2 meters (6 feet) away from any other person. If you are an employee of essential business, maintain 6 feet from your customers. Infectious droplets from a COVID-19 affected person typically do not travel more than 2 meters.
Avoid crowded places: Maintaining social distancing in overcrowded areas is difficult. It is better to avoid going to these places.
Wipe carts: In some stores, carts are wiped using disinfectants before another customer uses the cart. If they don’t wipe the carts, take your own disinfectant wipes and clean the carts.
Use elbows or back of your hands to open doors: Wherever possible, use elbows or back of your hands to open the doors. As you don’t touch your face with elbows, the risk of infection is very low.
Use the back of your knuckle to press elevator buttons and not the tip of your finger.
Gloves: Wearing gloves does not protect you completely. Gloves may give you a false sense of security. If you are wearing gloves, ensure not to touch your personal items like cell phone with them. It is important not to touch the outer surface of the gloves while removing them. You still have to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
Use hand-sanitizer frequently: Take a hand-sanitizer with you. Use a hand-sanitizer frequently and generously, especially if you touch an object that several people touch, like a doorknob in a public restroom. Also, use hand-sanitizer when you come back to your vehicle after shopping is over. Use it generously before you touch your car keys, car door or the steering wheel.
Wash hands with soap and water: Once home, wash your hands with soap and water thoroughly before you touch anything else.