Ways to Stay Safe at the Store During Coronavirus
We’re now over a week into this new pandemic world. Citizens of the world are staying inside as much as possible to reduce the spread of the virus. However, we still need to go out for essential items such as groceries. In his news conference on March 23, Toronto Mayor John Tory suggested that grocery trips happen weekly.
Halenda’s is committed to the health and safety of our communities. Our response to COVID-19 is evolving quickly across our six stores. Measures that we have taken include encouraging physical distancing (aka social distancing) and installing plexiglass barriers.
Here, we offer ten ways to practice safe shopping at our stores and others during this time and afterward, when life goes back to normal:
During a pandemic
1. Call ahead
If possible, phone ahead with your order. Check the store’s website or social media to see if they are offering call-in orders.
2. ONLINE ORDERING
For convenience during the coronavirus, you can now order Halenda’s freezer packs online for in-store pickup at all Halenda’s stores except for St. Jacobs (closed). Payment options include in-store and online.
Other stores offer online ordering as well.
3. VISIT STORE DURING OFF-PEAK HOURS
Physical distancing is a challenge when stores are busy. Visit stores during off-peak times, such as early in the morning. If you’re working from home, the need to go out for groceries will make you brush your teeth and get dressed (we hope).
4. BE EXTRA-MINDFUL OF PERSONAL SPACE
It’s easy to get so focused on getting in and out of the store quickly that you don’t notice others around you. It’s also natural to not notice those around you as you scroll through the news on your phone while waiting in the checkout line. Be extra observant and mindful of those around you. Even if you’re someone who usually keeps their distance, it’s easy to walk into another person.
5. Hands off the merchandise
Resist touching the merchandise at the store.
Be mindful of picking up items and returning them to the shelf. You don’t know who else has touched that bag of pasta or can of soup, nor does the person who touches it after you. You, or they, could be infected COVID-19 – or any other contageous illness – and not know it.
Don’t pick up the produce to squeeze and sniff. If you must, do it with a glove or plastic produce bag on your hand.
Produce with an inedible peel or outside leaves are good choices as long as they are washed and peeled. Wash your onions and bananas with soap and water before you peel them. Wash and remove the outer leaves of cabbage and lettuce.
6. Canned and frozen
Given people’s inclination toward the squeeze test, sticking to canned and frozen produce could be safest. Wipe down the cans and bags with soap and water or disinfectant when you get it home.
7. PAY WITH PLASTIC
During this pandemic, cash is not king. Money frequently changes hands. We live in an era during which most of us pay with debit or credit cards. Keep doing that.
8. BUY FOR OTHERS SO THEY CAN STAY HOME
To keep the number of people out in grocery stores down, consider doing a grocery run for a group of friends or neighbours, especially those who are immune-compromised. Leave the groceries outside their door.
Consider rotating the task of shopping with healthy individuals. One week, one person visits the store; another week, another person does. Set up a Google Spreadsheet with signup weeks. Have everyone email their shopping list to the designated shopper of the week, or use a shared cloud folder such as Google Drive or Dropbox. It’s about minimizing exposure to the COVID-19 virus.
9. Sanitize those charge cards
We don’t recommend running them through the washing machine, as many of us have accidentally done at least once. However, a rub down with disinfecting wipes, or with a rag wet with hydrogen peroxide or alcohol will help keep your cards virus-free.
10. Keep your reusable bags clean
A 2011 study from scientists at the University of Arizona and Loma Linda University found bacteria in 99% of bags tested. Large numbers of bacteria were found in almost all bags and coliform bacteria in half. E.coli was found in over 12% of the bags tested.
During their study, 97% of shoppers admitted that they had never washed their reusable grocery shopping bags.
After the study was circulated, experts recommended washing reusable grocery bags after every use. If anything, wash your reusable bags after every use during the COVID-19 pandemic. When your Coronavirus hygiene habits have receded, make it a habit to throw your reusable bags in the laundry hamper as part of your regular laundry routine. Sheets, towels, bags. Hang bags to dry. Spray with disinfectant.
Soft thermal bags (for keeping food hot or cold) can be wiped with a rag and sprayed with disinfectant.
The plastic shopping bins that supermarkets sell can easily be washed out with soap and water and sanitized. You could also run them through your dishwasher.
A note about bags at Halenda’s during COVID-19:
We have waived the plastic bag fee. If you bring your own bag, our cashiers will no longer be able to pack them. This ensures the safety of our staff.
We hope this helps. Stay safe and well.
The Halenda’s Team.