Supermarkets and essential shops are still open for business – but that doesn’t mean we should be cutting corners when it comes to staying safe.
Social distancing, staying hygienic and following store guidelines are more important than ever with shopping back on the agenda – so, what easy adaptations can you make to reduce your risk of catching Covid-19?
1. Wear a face covering
Unless you have a health exemption, you must wear a face mask or covering in all shops and supermarkets, shopping centres, post offices and banks (you can find the full list of public spaces covered by government guidance here). Chains including Morrisons and Sainsbury’s have announced they will bar any customers who aren’t wearing a mask and don’t have a reasonable exemption.
“Really we should be wearing masks in public places, particularly ones where we can’t social distance,” says Professor Sally Bloomfield, honorary professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
Make sure you wash your hands before you put your mask on, and once it’s on, leave it there – it should be covering your nose as well as your mouth. Avoid touching your face or pulling the mask off during your trip to the shops.
2. Ditch the wallet.
To save you scrabbling about in your purse or wallet at the checkout, take your card out and pop it in your trouser pocket, or an inside pocket of your bag, so you can access it easily without touching everything else.
3. Sanitise on entering and exiting each shop.
If you’ve got your own sanitiser, brilliant – experts recommend carrying a bottle around with you and using it before you go in – and leave – a shop. If you haven’t got any, most shops and supermarkets now provide a sanitising station at the door. Just make sure you use it.
If there is no sanitiser, avoid touching your face – specifically your eyes, nose and mouth – until you can wash your hands.
4. Don’t touch what you don’t need.
Touching items unnecessarily is raising your risk of picking up, or passing around, the virus – so don’t do it. Studies found the virus can survive on cardboard for up to 24 hours, and up to two to three days on plastic and steel surfaces.
5. Don’t tap the card machine with your card.
Contactless cards can be hovered a few centimetres from the card machine and still work – it can be hard to break the habit of tapping the machine, but it’s worth doing. This way you’re less likely to pick up any unwanted virus on your payment card or hand.
6. Use keys to punch in your pin number.
If you’re worried about touching the chip and pin machine and are spending more than the contactless card limit (£45), why not use your car or house keys, or a tissue over your finger you then throw away? Prof Bloomfield says she uses her car keys to punch in her pin so she doesn’t have to touch the machine.
If you don’t have any keys on you, use hand sanitiser before and after using the chip and pin machine, suggests Dr Lisa Ackerley, aka The Hygiene Doctor.
7. Using cash? Take it in an envelope.
If you’re using cash to pay, put it in an envelope so you can put the change in there and leave it for a few days after the shop, suggests Dr Ackerley. Some shops might ask you to use a self-checkout if you bring cash so their staff don’t have to handle it.
8. Bring wipes.
If you’ve managed to get hold of anti-bacterial wipes, take a pack in your bag and wipe down trolley or basket handles, and self checkout screens, before and after using them.
9. Ask for an email receipt.
Prof Bloomfield will often refuse a printed receipt – if you’re buying clothes or more expensive items that might need to be returned at some point, ask for the receipt to be emailed. Or ask for the person serving you to put it in the bag.
10. Behave like you have the virus.
It’s clear we all need to be very wary of what we might be passing to others. The easiest way to deal with this is to act like you have the virus – wear a mask to keep germs to yourself, hand sanitise regularly, wipe your trolley down after you’ve used it, don’t touch things unless you’re going to buy them. It’s down to the public to be careful do what we can to stop the virus spreading.