If you are out shopping at supermarkets, it is vital you stay safe during the coronavirus pandemic.
More official advice has been issued and the new guidelines tell shoppers what they should do before, during and after their trip to the supermarket in order to minimise their risk of contracting Covid-19.
They warn that touching trolleys, goods, and standing too close to other shoppers could result in transmission of the virus and using hand sanitiser and maintaining social distancing is key to staying safe, reports The Mirror.
Environmental Health Association of Ireland (EHAI), and Irish Global Health Network (IGHN), together with The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) have create a four-page document of guidelines.
It highlights lots of measures you should take before shopping, bothe during the trip and afterwards. It also clarifies what the supermarkets themselves should be doing as the number of Covid-19 infections exceeds 4,000 in the UK.
But the document stresses, early on, that “no reported cases of COVID-19 have been linked to contaminated food.”
It adds: “The main risk to shoppers is coming into contact with an infected person.”
So, shoppers must ask themselves “is it really essential to buy these groceries today? Can it wait? Do I feel well enough?” before even leaving their homes.
Alternatively, shop online where possible.
“If possible, avoid taking your children to the shops and try to shop at off-peak times to avoid the crowds,” the guidance says.
“Most shops now have special times for the elderly to shop to reduce risks to them. These are usually in the morning but check with your local store. There may also be special arrangements for health care workers.
“Make an inventory of what items you have and when it will go out of date so you can use them in date order and avoid wasting food and money by buying things you don’t need.
“Make a list and ensure you have enough food to last until your next planned shop. Use your freezer to store shorter life, perishable items such as bread and meats.
“This is not a licence to panic-buy but to buy essential items. It is best to limit shopping trips to once a week as this reduces the risk of getting the disease or spreading it to others.
It’s advisable to asses the control measures in place by supermarkets. Large ones, like Tesco, have pointed out these in recent media advertisements.
However, most should be cleaning and sanitising trollies and baskets between use, using clear markings on the floor to help customers maintain social distance and staff themselves should practice social distancing on the shop floor.
What you should do:
- Maintain a safe distance between staff and other shoppers, including in routes in and out the supermarket. You may have to queue, for instance, to get in the shop.
- Bring your own hand sanitiser. “If you need to handle a basket or trolley, ask if it has been sanitised since last being used. If not, sanitise using either your own sanitiser or that provided by the store. Sanitise your hands when you enter the store, ideally with your own sanitiser or, if available, that provided by the store.”
- Avoid contact with surfaces as much as possible.
- Don’t delay while shopping or chat with neighbours/friends/store staff.
- If you are planning to remain at home for long periods of time, consider buying non-perishable foods such as canned goods or dry mixes that don’t require refrigeration, such as ready-to-eat canned meats, fruit and vegetables. But make sure you buy things you like and will use.
- Use contactless payment if possible.
- Use the same hand to pick up produce and sanitise our hands after leaving the supermarket.
- Wash and sanitise your hands again once home. Then, designate a cleared, disinfected area to sort out your shopping.
- Prior to stocking your fridges and cupboards, wipe shelving with sanitiser and a paper towel, then discard.
- But if you are shopping for a vulnerable person, leave the goods on the doorstep, ring the bell or phone them and stand back while they collect it.
- Wipe down all tins and hard surface packs. “Coronavirus can survive on hard surfaces, so wipe the outside of all canned/hard surface pack goods(tetra packs) with a paper towel/warm soapy water, sanitise (following the manufacturer’s guidance).Alternatively leave non-perishable foods in a safe place for 72 hours.”
- Remove outer food packaging and discard, being careful to limit handling of the inner packaging of items such as yoghurts.
- Wipe down fridge and cupboard handles with sanitiser, a paper towel and discard.
- Wash your hands again after you have unpacked and put your shopping bags away
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