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Sharp Health News

How to shop and order food safely in quarantine

April 6, 2020

How to safely shop and get takeout during the COVID-19 pandemic
Everyone has questions about COVID-19 and the ways in which we can keep ourselves safe. While we are adapting to new requirements to stop the spread of the virus, many of us have questions about how to safely go about some of our essential activities.

Here are answers to your top three questions about how to safely shop for groceries, receive packages and order takeout food from local restaurants:

1. Is it safe to order takeout or delivery from local restaurants?

The short answer is yes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), COVID-19 is thought to be spread from person-to-person through respiratory droplets; there is no evidence to support that it is transmitted through food products or packaging. However, it's important to order only from businesses that you feel confident are following the highest level of hygiene and food safety guidelines.

If ordering food for takeout or delivery, your safest bet is to follow these tips:
  • Choose a low- or no-contact method, such as asking that your delivered order is left at your doorstep and paying online before picking up takeout food.
  • Wear a face covering — any cloth material that covers your nose and mouth — if you are leaving your home to pick up food.
  • Avoid touching shared equipment, such as door handles, counters and touchpads.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds.

2. What is the safest way to shop at a grocery or big-box store and bring the items into my home?

When available, consider taking advantage of store delivery or low-contact pick-up services. However, if you must go in person, wear a face covering and try to shop at times when your local store might be less busy, such as in the morning, but always respect special shopping hours for seniors and at-risk shoppers. Remember to practice social distancing while in line to enter the store, while shopping and in check-out lines by maintaining 6 feet of space between yourself and other people. Some stores are no longer allowing the use of reusable shopping bags, so check with your local store before you go.

Other safe shopping steps:
  • Wipe down your shopping cart, especially the handle, with a disinfectant wipe - you might want to bring your own in case they are not provided at the store.
  • If possible, use digital payment methods, such as Apple Pay, to avoid handling a credit card or cash. If you have to hand a credit card to the cashier, wipe it down with a disinfectant wipe before returning it to your wallet or pocket.
  • Thoroughly wash all fruits and vegetables.
  • Wipe all kitchen counters and surfaces you or the items may have touched with a disinfectant wipe.
  • Thoroughly wash and disinfect your reusable bags if your local store allows you to use them.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • If the store was particularly busy or if people around you were coughing or sneezing or did not keep a distance of 6 feet, remove your clothing and launder them in the warmest temperature the fabric can withstand.

3. Is it safe to shop online and have packages shipped to your home?

It is. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that although the new coronavirus can stay on surfaces for up to several days, depending on the type of surface, it is very unlikely that the virus will persist on a surface after being moved and exposed to different conditions and temperatures during the shipping process.

Furthermore, online shopping companies have increased the frequency and intensity of cleaning at all sites, and require employees and delivery people to clean and disinfect their work stations and vehicles as well as avoid physical contact with customers. Employees are also encouraged to frequently wash their hands or use hand sanitizer, and stay home if they are sick.

However, if you'd like to be extra cautious, you can leave packages and boxes outside, in your garage or in another secluded spot for a few days before bringing them into your home then take the following steps:
  • Remove the product from the shipping package and recycle or dispose of all external packaging materials.
  • Wipe down the product with a disinfectant wipe.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
Learn what Sharp HealthCare is doing to screen for COVID-19.

This story was updated on June 23, 2020.

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