Grocery shopping has always been a relatively simple task. I write down a list of what I need to buy and go. Now, the situation has changed because of COVID-19. Being quarantined all the time is something I’m not used to at all. A seemingly menial task is now more burdensome. We have to adapt to the new situation so we can shop safely at grocery stores. I love looking at its fresh seafood selection. There’s something about them moving that I can just keep staring at.
In the past, I tend to go grocery shopping whenever I wanted. The time didn’t really matter but now it does because you don’t want to be stuck waiting in line. Go early in the morning. I usually go around 8 am because people are probably getting ready for work or are on their way to work. It’s less likely to have a lot of people at the store. Fewer people = fewer germs. It’s hard to social distance when the grocery aisles are pretty narrow especially at busy times.
1) Wear a Face Mask
Wash your hands thoroughly before putting a face mask on. Do this before you leave this house. Once you have it on, DON’T TOUCH IT. If you keep fixing your mask, it will be ineffective. The virus could be stuck in front of the mask so hands off! I have family members that only wear a mask when they’re at a place with people or they take it on and off. NO.
The World Health Organization recommends people to wear fabric facemasks in public and to leave the medical facemasks for professionals. It’s been extremely difficult to find surgical face masks because the professionals need them. If you can find some, I suggest wearing them instead of a cloth mask.
a) Tips on Buying Face Masks
With surgical masks, if you can find individually wrapped masks, I would recommend getting those. They are more hygienic in general. I have opened a box of masks to find some of the masks dirty. At such a critical time, I’m worried that that one or two ‘bad masks’ will contaminate the whole box. Instead of taking a chance, I ended up throwing out the whole box. I felt bad because it was such a waste but I didn’t want to risk anything.
b) Culture Difference – Masks
For someone who has spent almost 10 years of her life in Hong Kong, wearing a facemask isn’t anything new. I remember wearing a facemask during SARS. Being in Toronto, I understand that often, there are cultural differences between the Western and Asian mindsets. Wearing masks in public is a perfect example. Even though the Ontario government recommends people to wear a face mask when out, a lot of people disregard this advice. Maybe they think wearing a mask doesn’t help or they simply don’t want to.
I understand that it’s not comfortable wearing a face mask that covers your nose and mouth. It’s summertime so it’s hot already. The worst feeling is when you get sweaty, the mask gets wet, and it sticks to your face. Ewww. Keep a backup mask nearby and switch to the other one when the mask feels wet and sticky on your face. Although not ideal, you should deal with it and still wear a mask. Some people might think they’re superman/superwoman because they will NEVER get the virus. Good luck to those people.
2) Use Hand Sanitizer
Okay so now you’re outside of the grocery store. The next item on the list is hand sanitizer. Time to use some. I’m assuming there’s no place to wash your hands with soap. If there is, soap and water is a better option than using hand sanitizer. Since I’m assuming soap and water aren’t available nearby, hand sanitizer is the next best thing. Don’t be cheap with the amount you use. Use hand sanitizer like the way you wash your hands with soap. Rub your hands together and cleanse thoroughly.
You should carry around a travel-size hand sanitizer. It won’t take up a lot of space. You can’t see germs and god knows how much people touch the same things at a store. Once your hands are clean, put on gloves. There’s no point in wearing gloves if you’re going to be touching your hair or phone. If it means pulling your hair back, do it so you won’t be tempted. You don’t want to transfer germs from your gloves to your hair or phone.
3) Wipe Down Carts Before Using
You’re now inside the grocery store. Before touching a grocery cart, wipe down the areas you will touch aka the handles with wet wipes. I have some travel-size wet wipes with me. I like travel-size items because who’s going to carry a huge tube of Lysol wipes around with them? Depending on your grocery store, they might have wipes provided at the storefront but I bring my own just in case they don’t.
Even though your local grocery store probably does disinfect their carts, I still do an extra wipe down. I feel comforted if I do. Also, by wearing gloves, I have an extra layer of protection. Before the coronavirus, people would never do this kind of thing! Now, people don’t even blink an eye. Oh, how things have changed.
4) What to Do When You Get Home
Fast forward to the part you get home with all your groceries. Sit them down in the kitchen and be careful of the surfaces they touch in case you do bring the virus home. The last thing you want to do is let your newly bought groceries contaminate multiple areas in your own home.
After putting your groceries down, take off your gloves, and wash your hands. Once your hands are clean, take off your facemask. To properly dispose of your mask and gloves, use a tissue to wrap around them before throwing it out.
If possible, you can leave your groceries where they are for 3 days. By that time, the virus will no longer be on the surface. However, this isn’t realistic so wipe down every item you bought from the store. After washing my hands, I then put on another pair of clean gloves to wipe down my groceries. You don’t need to put on another pair of gloves if you don’t want to. I don’t like the feeling of Lysol wipes on my skin which is why I wear gloves.
Then, take off this pair of gloves, properly dispose of it and wash your hands again. Voila! This is my entire routine going to the grocery store. Sounds tiring, right? It certainly is!
That’s why I only go grocery shopping once a week because the whole process is exhausting. There are times I want fresh food but when I think about the whole shebang, I convince myself I still have frozen food at home. I don’t want to go through the hassle, you know? But you have to because although cases seem to be going down around here, it’s still not completely gone. People are starting to relax but until this virus is eradicated, it’s still at the forefront of my mind.
Stay safe everyone!