While most of us are isolating at home as much as possible, there will be times when we will have to venture out. People have to eat, after all. Whether it's take-out, delivery or a trip to the grocery store for supplies, there are ways to protect ourselves and the workers who serve, bag and deliver our food. Here are some tips from Consumer Reports and the food website Epicurious:
IN THE STORE
• If you have to go shopping in person, try to limit the number of family members who leave the house. That limits the potential exposure of people in the household, and keeps the number in the store to a minimum.
• Don't bring reusable bags. Some Maine towns have suspended their 5-cent fees for using the store's plastic or paper bags instead of reusable plastic or cloth bags. If you do use your reusable bags, wipe them thoroughly before you leave home, and wipe them again when you empty them afterward.
• Stay six feet away from everyone else in the store. According to the CDC, that is generally the distance within which people pick up coronavirus droplets through the air from a cough or sneeze.
• Go shopping when it's less busy.
• Take hand sanitizer or alcohol wipes with you. Use them to wipe your hands and the cart before and after you shop, and don't forget to wipe the handles of the dairy or freezer cases.
• Make a list so you can shop fast and get in and out as quickly as possible. Touch only the items you'll buy. Don't buy items from help-yourself spots like olive or salad bars or bulk bins.
• If you use gloves, put them on before going into the store, and discard them after you leave the store. Don’t reuse them.
• Use the self-checkout option if you can, to minimize contact with other people, and once again, clean the keypad and touch screen before you use them.
• After shopping and before you enter your car or home, disinfect your hands with hand sanitizer. Wash your hands again once you get home.
• If you have alcohol wipes with you, wipe the bags and handles before you put them in the car.
GET IT DELIVERED
• Use grocery delivery services where possible. This method has the advantage of allowing you to not leave the house at all.
• If it's available and you choose to have groceries delivered, ask the delivery person to leave the packages at the door and call to let you know they've arrived. This keeps both you and the delivery person from having contact with each other.
• Use the electronic tipping function on the shopping app (most of the apps will have them) so the delivery person does not have to touch cash (and neither of you has contact with the other).
• If you have ordered via delivery brought to your car in the store parking lot, open your car doors yourself if possible, rather than having the person bringing your items touch the handle. And once again, tip on the app if the employees are allowed to take tips. Try not to hand them cash.
• If you are ordering takeout or delivered meals to your door, the same routine holds: Ask if the delivery person can call ahead and let you know when he or she arrives, and have them leave the meal at the door to minimize contact. Tip on the app or add the tip over the phone when you call to place the order.