Categories: Coronavirus

Coronavirus Pandemic: How to Stay Safe While Shopping for Essentials

During the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, most countries around the world have initiated a lockdown and advised their citizens to practice social distancing and avoid any crowded places. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has also laid down several important guidelines to follow during this time to help you stay safe and healthy. 

Staying home is the safest thing you can do in the present times. However, to sustain yourself for a long period of time, you will need to get some essential supplies. It’s important to note here that your travels to grocery shops, departmental stores or pharmacy shops should be reduced to a bare minimum. Making two trips a month to get the essentials you need should suffice. 

Some of the things to keep in mind before venturing out of your home to forage for essentials are:

  • Don’t think twice before chucking out expired food or medicine items and get fresh ones. This is a bad time to fall sick from food poisoning or consuming expired medicines
  • If there is an option to home-deliver your groceries, choose that. It’ll help avoid huge crowds at the physical stores and any possible physical contact
  • Try not to get more than two to three weeks of food. This can help you prevent any food from getting expired and risk health concerns

Maintaining certain safety standards while you make these trips can also go a long way in preventing any unnecessary risks of infection and help you stay protected. 


Here are some guidelines to stay safe while making shopping trips for essentials: 

Plan Ahead

A good way to start is to take an inventory at the beginning of the month of what you need from the grocery store, pharmacy, or the gas station. This can help you to avoid any repeat visits, rather get everything you need in a single visit. 

It’s also important to plan when you’re going to make the visit. Try to schedule your trips during non-peak hours to avoid as many people as possible. This can be during the afternoon on weekends or early evenings on weekdays. 

In case the store is crowded while you’re visiting it, try to stay at least 6 feet away from other people. You can also choose a store which offers a drive-through facility. 

Carry your Own Cleaning Supplies

As a precautionary measure, you may also choose to carry your own disinfectants and clean the surfaces of the stores you visit. It’s also better to carry a sanitiser as it may not be possible for you to wash your hands on to go all the time. 

Wash your hands or use a sanitiser after touching any surface

You must have heard this being said a lot all around and it’s a very important guideline to follow. Make sure to be aware of any foreign surface you touch and remember to wash your hands thoroughly or use a sanitiser right after that. 

Here are the absolute times when you should be washing your hands:

  • After coming home from outside
  • Before and unpacking the items you bought
  • After you sneeze or cough, in case you haven’t used a tissue in which case you must dispose of it right away

If you want, you can also wipe the package with disinfectants before unpacking and tissue and throw away the tissue. Also, don’t forget to wash your reusable shopping bags after each use. 

Opt for “contactless shopping”, if possible

This is a good option in case you want to reduce your exposure to a crowd. In contactless shopping, you can select the items you want to purchase, order them and pay for them beforehand, then finally visit the store to pick up the items. This is a safer option since you can avoid moving around the store to choose the items and leave, thus reducing chances of any infection. It’s also ideal for the store employees and other people who need to buy the items. 

Shop alone, not in a group

Don’t make your trips to the store an excursion and try to make them as short as possible. Apart from a few exceptions such as when you are a single mother or have a really small baby, it’s best to go shopping alone. This not only helps in reducing the number of people in a store and makes physical distancing easier but also reduces the chance of any member of your family getting infected. 

Maintain physical distancing

While you’re following the social distancing rule when you’re out, you must try to maintain the physical distancing rule too once you’re going out. While at a store, don’t forget to keep at least six-foot distance from a person behind or ahead of you. If you feel someone is standing closer to you than necessary, you can politely ask them to move back. 

Don’t forget your phone

Your phone may be one item that you’ll be carrying everywhere you go. It can be a storehouse of a lot of germs and infections too. Many times you may forget to clean the surface of your phone after keeping it in different places. It’s important to avoid keeping your phone in different places as they can be a carrier of a lot of information. You can wipe the screen with a tissue and some disinfectants. 

Avoid going out if you’re at high risk

If you have a higher chance of infection from COVID-19, then you should stay at home. This includes old aged people, especially those over 65, or people with heart and lung diseases and diabetes. It’s better if you have some other person who can do the errands for you. This is not only important for your health but for those of others.

In the case of a communicable disease such as the Coronavirus pandemic where the rate of transmission and the risk of infection is pretty high, it’s important to maintain a strict personal hygiene regimen and follow safety standards to keep yourself protected. Being extra cautious when you’re stepping outside and following the above guidelines can help you stay protected from getting infected as well as infecting others.

Dr. Satish Koul | Senior Consultant & Director Internal Medicine | Narayana Superspeciality Hospital, Gurugram

Narayana Health

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