Here’s What You Should Do Before and After Grocery Shopping Amid COVID-19
Preparations need to be done at home to keep you safe outdoors.
During this time when everyone is highly encouraged to self-isolate because of the Coronavirus pandemic, people are worried about going to the supermarket because it is prone to the Three Cs namely closed spaces, crowded places, and close-contact settings. Last April 23, Tokyo’s Governor Yuriko Koike urged the residents to only do grocery shopping once every 3 days.
After talking to supermarket researcher Yoshimi Sugawara about the things we should be mindful of when going to the supermarket these days, we should now know the safety measures after going to the supermarket in our own homes. Check them out.
4 preparations at home
1. Do not go shopping when you don’t feel well.
2. Wear a mask even if you feel well.
3. Shop when the store is not busy and shorten your stay.
4. Go alone (do not bring your kids).
First, before leaving the house, check your physical condition. If you must, online shopping is always an option. And even if you feel extremely well, consider the risk of spreading the infection to others as an asymptomatic carrier and wear a mask while shopping. In some countries, wearing a mask in supermarkets is already being required.
In Tokyo, supermarket owners are advised to reduce the number of shopping baskets, to set a time slot for the elderly, pregnant women, and persons with disability, or to post less crowded time slots on social media to avoid congestion. You can refer to the popular times section of your local supermarket on Google search as well. Limit your grocery shopping to once every 3 days, shorten your stay, and make a list of what you need for the next 3 days before leaving the house. By dividing your shopping list according to the sections of the supermarket, you won’t forget anything and you spend less time shopping. Roaming around the supermarket without a set menu in mind prolongs your shopping, so let’s avoid that for now.
Also, to lower the risk of spreading the virus by droplet infection, send someone who is used to shopping alone. If you must bring your children, use a front inward facing baby carrier for infants and use the baby seats on shopping carts for toddlers. Make sure they don’t touch the products as you shop.
Keep in mind that toddlers tend to lick random things so always bring a wet tissue with you and disinfect frequently. For older children, explain what they can and cannot do before bringing them along.
3 things to do after going back home
5. Always wash your hands when you return home.
6. Wash fresh produce with running water and wipe packaging with disinfectant.
7. Afterwards, wash your hands once again.
According to a study conducted in the U.S. about the lifespan of Coronavirus on various surfaces, it stays on cardboards for 24 hours, 48 hours on stainless steel, and 72 hours on plastic materials (Source: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases). So once you return home, disinfecting the products you bought is very important before putting them away. Washing fresh produce and wiping the packaging with disinfectants are effective in preventing infection. Hand washing once you’re at home and disinfecting in general are also basic countermeasures against Coronavirus.
Viewing things differently in the time of Coronavirus crisis
As the world goes through a difficult time, human beings are creatures that adapt well. There are still good things we can appreciate even during this pandemic. Ms. Sugawara says it’s nice to be aware of the positive aspects to help improve our lives.
Things to be positive about regarding food
・Because we refrain from eating out, the number of dishes I enjoy making with my family has increased (hot plate cooking, etc.)
・Since my child has more free time, we have more time to cook together (enhanced food education)
・As a result of having no drinking parties, refraining from eating out, and cooking most meals by ourselves, the household budget is in the black.
・Before, I always thought, “Why do I always have to go grocery shopping?” but now I feel a sense of responsibility by thinking, “I am the one who can go shopping with the least risks in the family.”
・I’ve started strengthening my immune system and living a healthier lifestyle.
・Since I’ve stopped driving to avoid buying too much, I’ve saved on gas money and I’ve lost weight as well.
Yoshimi Sugawara, a supermarket researcher, introduces etiquette tips for when grocery shopping.
■Supermarket Researcher Yoshimi Sugawara
Born in 1965, Tokyo resident. Published two “Supermarkets in Japan” books in 2012 and 2014 under Kodansha Ltd. From housewife to supermarket researcher. Featured in many TV shows, radio programs, magazines, and newspaper articles, she also served as a judge in Bento and Prepared Meal Awards 2020.
Provided by Japan Walker™, Walkerplus™, and Tokyo Walker™ (29 April 2020)