Customers line up six feet apart before going inside the Walmart in El Centro, in an effort to enforce safe social distancing. ( DANIELA AVILA | THE POLY POST)

Grocery shopping during a global pandemic: The do’s and don’ts


Staff Writer & Copy Editor

Since social distancing has become the new normal during the COVID-19 pandemic, it can be difficult to navigate going out in public with new guidelines going into effect each day. While it is best to stay at home as much as possible, most of us will find ourselves having to make a trip to the grocery store every so often. Here are some tips to make your visit to the market go as smoothly as possible, but most importantly, safely. 

Make sure you’re protected

When venturing out into the world, it’s important to take the proper precautions to ensure your own safety, as well as the safety of others. When going to the grocery store, avoid possible contamination by wearing a mask and disposable gloves. Most stores now require a mask for entry. If you’re using a cart or basket, wipe it down with sanitary wipes provided by the store. Once home, rinse your produce in warm water and wipe down any nonporous items to disinfect.

Avoid touching items you’re not going to buy or touching surfaces in general. This will reduce the spread of germs. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also recommends using touchless payment if you have the option, to avoid touching highly used money, cards and keypads. 

Gabby Toapanta, a first-year transfer general biology student, covers up as much as possible before visiting the grocery store. Toapanta is sure to wear long sleeves, pants, a mask and gloves before going inside. 

“I try to be conscious about what I touch and try not to touch a lot of things except for my items and the shopping cart. For payment, I always just have my debit card in an easy-to-reach pocket, since I don’t wanna have to worry about fumbling with my wallet.”

Customers line up six feet apart before going inside the Walmart in El Centro, in an effort to enforce safe social distancing.

Plan ahead

Many markets have adjusted their hours to keep up with restocking and properly disinfecting items throughout the store. Make sure you are aware of the store’s hours in order to avoid showing up when it’s already closed. Certain hours may also be reserved for the elderly or those considered to be at high risk for infection. 

According to the CDC, “If you are at higher risk for severe illness, find out if the store has special hours for people at higher risk. If they do, try to shop during those hours. People at higher risk for severe illness include adults 65 or older and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions.”

Creating a list of what you need before going to the store can also be helpful in several ways. Putting together a list beforehand can get you in and out of the store quickly, which ultimately decreases your contact with others. As well, if you have a planned-out list you’ll be less likely to overbuy unnecessary items.

Be aware

Be aware of updated store policies. Many stores like Ralphs and Vons have implemented a final purchase policy, which means stores will no longer accept any returns. Stores have also continued to update their policies on quantity limits on items such as toilet paper and disinfecting products.

Third-year urban and regional planning student Alicia Silvia Mays has taken advantage of a unique resource to help her shop.

“One of my concerns is also being able to find certain items,” Silvia Mays said. “I use neighborhood groups to check which stores have what I’m looking for before going to the store to minimize the amount of trips I need to make.”

In addition to finding what you need, it is also very important to be aware of your surroundings and distance from others. Although some people ignore all safety protocols, it is still important you respect shoppers’ space. Remember, six feet is the magic number!

If you’re feeling ill, chill

The health of others is just as important as yours! If you are feeling under the weather, be sure to stay home and wait until you’re better. Utilize delivery services or ask friends and family to help drop off groceries if it is urgent. Don’t risk spreading any type of illness during these anxious times as nobody wants to feel even remotely sick. 

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