• COVID-19 Hygiene Tips (10) Going shopping

    Getting prepared.

    Do not go to the shops if you are in one of the groups that must stay at home. Check out the latest government advice to determine if you should not leave home. IFH has a useful summary as it is quite complicated.

    Before you go out shopping, it pays to make a plan

    • Find out what the rules are at your local shop so you know what to expect
    • Shop alone. If you can avoid it don’t bring children, but of course it may be necessary if there is no-one in the household to look after them.
    • Have a list of what you would like to buy (you may not get everything but it helps to complete the task quickly)
    • Take hand sanitising gel and sanitising wipes for the trolley or basket
    • Take your card for payment out of your wallet so you don’t have to touch your wallet when you pay. If using cash, put it in an envelope so you can put the change in there and leave it for a few days after the shop.
    • Behave as though you may be infected (you could be, even without symptoms) so wash your hands before you leave home to protect others.

    Observe and follow the new rules

    • Above all, follow any rules the supermarket has put into place to protect you and their staff.
    • Stand 2m apart in the queue to get into the supermarket – that is about 2 trolleys end to end.
    • If you have a sanitising wipe, use it on the trolley handle or basket -the supermarket may provide one.
    • Then sanitise your hands – again behave as though you have the virus but don’t have symptoms.
    • Be patient if others are allowed to go ahead of you because they are elderly or key workers.
    • Keep 2m apart from other shoppers when inside.
    • Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth when out .
    • Cough or sneeze into your elbow.
    • Don’t touch anything unless you intend to put it in your basket or trolley.
    • Queue up with a 2m distance from other shoppers.
    • It is likely by now the shop will have set up a 2m distance between you and the person on the till, or will have provided shielding.
    • When you pack, put all your fresh items in bags separate to those that are shelf-stable (e.g. tinned foods, coffee, tea etc). You will need to deal with them straight away when you get home.
    • Don’t feel embarrassed about wiping the key pad if you have to touch it or use a cocktail stick or tissue which you then throw away.
    • Put cash change into your envelope or small bag and put with the groceries you don’t need to put away immediately (canned, tinned etc).
    • Try to keep calm, everyone is feeling stressed.

    If you have gone by car

    • Sanitise your hands when you get to the car before handling keys.
    • Open the car and boot.
    • Load the bags into the boot and shut it.
    • Open the driver’s door and then sanitise your hands as you get in before you touch anything.

    When you get home

    • Open the door and put your bags in an area immediately next to the front door.
    • Take off your coat and shoes and put where they won’t contaminate anything else (e.g. by the front door).
    • Wash your hands and glasses if you wear them.
    • Put the pre-sorted bags of things that don’t need to be put away to one side and you can leave them 72 hours by which time – leave your change there too if it is a safe place.
    • Wash your hands.
    • Disinfect the food packaging before putting away.
    • Wash your hands!
    • Disinfect any touch points (door handles, tables, keys, phone etc).

    Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

    PPE is in short supply even to the NHS workers. If you do have your own masks and gloves, then you need to remember that they are only as good at protecting you and others as your care taken when using them.

    Most of us are not professionally trained to use PPE. Wrongly used, PPE can be a risk, for example you need to make sure you take gloves off carefully, and remember the gloves won’t protect you if you rub your face because they can still pick up viruses from surfaces!

    Equally a face mask will not protect you unless fitted properly, put on with clean hands, left in place and removed with clean hands etc. A face mask dangling around the chin is not going to help, and may present more of a risk.

    More information

    For more detailed information and scientific background, please see the IFH website. This information is written in good faith based on current advice, and will be updated as is possible. The author does not take any responsibility for how the advice is applied. Answers to individual questions may take a while, sorry!


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  • Barbara Jeremiah says:Reply
    7th April 2020 at 5:33 pm

    When the newspaper is delivered I pick it up with gloves on, take it to the Utility Room and then iron it back and front with my steam iron, finishing it off with the iron set to dry. Is this going ‘over the top’ with my sterilization process?

    The only anti-bacterial wipes I could buy are Dettol Surface Cleansing wipes and Flash anti-bacterial wipes. Are these strong enough for disinfecting the food packaging?

    • Dr Lisa Ackerley says:Reply
      11th April 2020 at 11:50 am

      Hi Barbara, the newspaper idea sounds good so long as you don’t burn it! I think butlers used to do just that in the old days for the gentry! I think whatever makes you feel comfortable is good. In relation to the wipes, you can check the packaging, and I am sure they would be fine. The risk is low on packaging, so this is just a belt and braces precaution, but one I take. You can make a bleach solution too and use a clean cloth which is very cheap to do. All the best, Lisa