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How to shop safely during the coronavirus pandemic

How to shop safely during the coronavirus pandemic

For many of us, the only place we are coming into contact with others outside our households during coronavirus lockdown is when we venture out to get groceries.

How to shop safely during the coronavirus pandemic

With Auckland moving into Level 3 of the COVID-19 alert as of midday 12 August, and the rest of New Zealand moving into Level 2, government officials are urging people to remain calm and avoid panic buying as supermarkets will remain open under all levels of the alert system.

However, with Level 3 looming for the Auckland region, queues at supermarkets are already snaking around the block as people rush to stock up on supplies.

If you’re considering a trip to the supermarket over the next couple of days, here are tips to shop safely during the coronavirus pandemic.

Limit trips to the store

Even though you’re still allowed to go to the supermarket, it doesn’t mean you should be heading there every day or rushing out to bulk buy certain supplies. When you do go to the supermarket aim to buy a week’s worth of supplies – no more, no less. 

Make a list: plan ahead

Minimise your time in the supermarket and avoid loitering by putting together a list of items before you go.

Check supermarket policies

Find out what your local supermarket is doing to protect its customers. See whether they are limiting the number of shoppers inside at all times, are providing hand sanitiser, and are sanitising after the shop is closed. If your local store isn’t taking precautions, avoid shopping there.

Keep your distance

Stores may be limiting the number of people allowed in the supermarkets, but keep aware of your distance from other shoppers and store employees all the same and stay two metres away from them. 

Wear a mask 

While not yet mandatory, all Aucklanders have now been advised by the government to wear masks when leaving their home. “While we are not mandating the general use at this stage, we are strongly encouraging the use in Auckland,” said Jacinda Ardern, speaking at a media conference Wednesday morning.

Wipe down surfaces

Before you start shopping, wipe down the handle of the shopping cart or basket. Be courteous to the next shopping by wiping down the handle after you’re finished too. If you have hand sanitiser, use it when you’re finished shopping. It will also pay to bring some wipes and remember to wipe surfaces such as the handles of your car. If you don’t have wipes, don’t panic. Just be sure to wash your hands after you’re done and try not to touch your face.

Wash fresh produce if you’re eating it raw

COVID-19 transmission is largely person-to-person, and there is currently no evidence of the virus being transmitted through food. Practising your usual food hygiene measures should be enough to protect you from the virus, but if you want to be extra cautious, you can follow these tips.

Make sure you wash any produce that you are going to eat raw. There’s conflicting advice about whether you need to wash vegetables with soap or just running water. If you want to use soap, use one specifically designed for washing vegetables or natural dish soap. Cooking will kill the virus, so if you’re worried about catching the virus from produce that other hands have touched, only eat cooked vegetables.

Viral particles do not survive well on paper or cardboard surfaces, and although they survive longer on hard surfaces, contamination from jars and plastic containers is not a big risk. But if you’re wanting to take extra precautions, when unloading groceries, sanitise your kitchen bench and divide it into two halves. With one side designated as the ‘dirty’ side and the other the ‘clean’ side, move items from the dirty side to the clean side once they are sanitised. Or of course, you can simply wash your hands after handling packaging.

Find out what the COVID-19 alert systems mean in New Zealand here

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