Grocery stores are not just businesses; they are spaces where people gather to bring food to their tables.

They can be the heart of our communities. They provide the ingredients that nourish families. They also provide employment and are someone’s workplace.

In the age of COVID-19, the need for good grocery stores has never been more relevant.

From the perspectives of grocery store workers, being a good grocery store is about a lot of things.

As we all grapple with COVID-19, it’s important to remember the simple things we can do to keep ourselves and others safe when engaging in essential errands like grocery shopping. Here are some tips:

WEAR A MASK

Mask wearing is one of the easiest things we can do to not only protect ourselves and others but also show grocery store workers that we respect the important role their work plays in bringing food to our tables.

Here is a resource put together by a group of Canadian doctors, professionals, and citizens on the ins and outs of mask-wearing: https://masks4canada.org/

KEEP YOUR DISTANCE

Another key part of shopping for groceries safely is maintaining social distance.

This can be challenging in an environment like a grocery store. But it continues to be one of the most important precautions to practice.

Instructions and signs have been posted in many stores requesting that shoppers travel in certain directions and follow certain protocols.

Please be aware of and review these instructions when shopping. And please treat grocery workers who politely remind you of those instructions respectfully as they are working to ensure everyone’s safety.

USE SANITIZER

So much of how we keep one another safe is paying attention to hygiene and keeping our hands clean either by washing them or using hand sanitizer.

Making a point of sanitizing your hands both before and after you go shopping for groceries does so much to help prevent spread. It is also helpful to sanitize the the cart you use both before and after you buy your groceries.

To help with making logistics easier, lots of people will pack a resealable bag with masks, hand sanitizer, and wipes in the purse, bag, or brief case they use most in their day-to-day lives (or create a “going out” bag if you don’t normally take one out with you).

That way, as you’re leaving the house, you don’t have to think about whether you’ve remembered sanitizer, masks, etc. — they’re simply there when you need them. Just remember to replenish your supplies after shopping!

ONLY TOUCH WHAT YOU WILL BUY

While medical experts have concluded it is highly unlikely that people can contract COVID-19 from food or food packaging, it remains a good idea not to touch products you don’t intend to buy while shopping for groceries.

Keeping your contact with food and other products to a minimum while grocery shopping helps to reduce exposure and contributes to the prevention of spreading the virus.

STAY HOME IF ILL

Staying home if you’re showing symptoms should be obvious advice right now. But it can be challenging for people who live alone or don’t have help when they need groceries.

Most stores now have delivery & curb-side pick up options you can use to help minimize spread.

BE KIND

Grocery store workers have been some of the unsung heroes of the COVID-19 pandemic.

They have been considered “essential” but have been asked to take risks. Grocery store owners have not always been responsive to demands to protect them.

When shopping in grocery stores, please be kind to the people who work there.

Further resources

The CDC has a good list of other tips for safe grocery shopping: https://www.cdc.gov/…/dai…/essential-goods-services.html