Staying Safe While Ordering Food & Grocery Shopping During the COVID-19 Lockdown
Food services, without a doubt, are an essential service. Everybody needs to eat, whether it’s by ordering a meal from a local restaurant or by cooking for themselves with ingredients from the grocery store or farmer’s market.
Even if you do your best to keep a well-stocked pantry, there’s a very good chance that you will need to go grocery shopping at some point as Michigan’s shelter-in-place order is in effect. Things like milk and fresh produce simply won’t keep for very long. And if you’ve been working from home, ordering lunch through Doordash or GrubHub can feel like a nice treat on a busy day. But right now, one of the biggest questions everyone has on their minds is how they can stay safe while doing those sorts of things.
Staying Safe at the Grocery Store
While many stores have options to order your groceries online and have them brought to your car, and apps like Instacart can deliver groceries to your home, the high demand for those services might make them difficult to use right now. If you need to go into the grocery store in person, one of the best things you can do is try to avoid shopping at times when the store tends to be busiest. Right now, many grocery stores are not operating as they normally do. Some are working on altered schedules, have designated shopping times for vulnerable shoppers, and/or are limiting the number of shoppers allowed inside at a time, so check before you go to the store to plan your visit accordingly.
Before you head to the store, start by creating a shopping list so that you know exactly what you’re looking for. Sometimes, it can be nice to browse the grocery store at a leisurely pace, but at a time like this, it’s very important to limit the amount of time spent in public spaces.
Once you get to the store, start by using an antibacterial wipe to disinfect your shopping cart, particularly its handle. Even if you’ve been careful about keeping your hands clean, you never know if the last person who used your cart is as careful as you are. As you look for the items you need, try to avoid unnecessarily touching items on the shelves. Even though there are no known cases of coronavirus being transmitted through food packaging, anything that reduces your chance of catching it can be beneficial.
In some grocery stores, you may also see markings on the floor indicating how far to stand apart in checkout lines or that people are only supposed to move in one direction through aisles as they shop. If you see these, do your best to follow the directions. These markings are in place to better facilitate social distancing.
Of course, if you’re feeling sick, the best thing you can do is stay home and either ask someone to shop for you or try a grocery delivery service. Even if you aren’t sick but are part of a vulnerable group, asking someone to grocery shop for you is the best way to stay safe at this time. And don’t forget to be careful in parking lots!
COVID-19 Safety for Food Delivery
The good news is that, at this time, there is nothing to suggest that coronavirus is being transmitted through food. Cooked food in particular is believed to be safe since viruses don’t react well to heat.
As the COVID-19 pandemic grew, many restaurants and food delivery apps started offering contact-free delivery options in which delivery drivers simply leave an order at a customer’s door without directly interacting with them. You will also likely be able to include a tip when you place your order, eliminating the need to interact with the delivery person for that reason. If you don’t see an option for contactless delivery, or you’re ordering by phone, either tell the person taking your order that this is what you’d prefer or note your preference in the section for delivery instructions.
Once your food is delivered, it’s a good idea to thoroughly wash your hands after handling the take-out container and transfer the food to one of your own plates. After delivery bags and containers have been cleared off a table or counter, clean the surface with a disinfectant.
Image: iStock / svetikd