By Sumathi Reddy | Wall Street Journal
With communities across the country virtually shut down, there is still one place nearly everyone needs to visit at some point: the grocery store. Experts say deliveries are safer, but sometimes it can be hard to get one scheduled right away. So if you must go to the store, what’s the best way to navigate the aisles and crowds? Information and guidance about the virus is changing quickly, so we asked the experts.
Is it safe to go to the grocery store?
Try to minimize visits to the store. “The biggest risk factor is really being around other people,” says Benjamin Chapman, a professor of food safety at North Carolina State University.
That’s because the novel coronavirus is spread largely through droplets from nearby people coughing or sneezing. If you must go, maintain a buffer around yourself and try to go at off-hours. (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a 6-foot buffer, while the World Health Organization says 3 feet will suffice).
It’s hard to maintain a distance from cashiers, so use self-checkout when possible and use hand sanitizer when you’re done.
Should I wear a mask or gloves to the grocery store?
The thinking on face masks has shifted recently. Previously experts didn’t recommend wearing them because the only fully protective masks are N95 respirator masks, which should be fitted and reserved for health-care workers. Now, many say wearing a cloth face mask of some sort is useful in preventing the emission of viral particles, which is important since many people may be asymptomatic.
Gloves don’t help much if you’re going to touch your eyes, nose or mouth with them. Rather, experts say, wash your hands with soap and water before going out and when coming home, and use hand sanitizer when out. If you use gloves, choose disposable ones and throw them away as soon as you get home.