With online grocery slots now joining hand gel and toilet roll on the ‘hard to come by’ list, many of us are having to go out to the supermarket despite the current lockdown. Although you might have stocked up on store cupboard essentials since the coronavirus outbreak first began, there is still a need to shop for fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as meat, fish, milk and other basic items. 

So how can we navigate the grocery shop while trying to make sure we stay safe? Here are some top tips:

1. Keep your distance

It’s very important to follow the government rules about social distancing while grocery shopping.  Many supermarkets are limiting the number of people in their stores and have distancing stickers near the entrance and tills to make sure shoppers stay two metres apart whilst queuing. However, it’s also important to make sure you maintain the same distance while walking around the shop. Don’t reach across or stand close to someone while picking your products from shelves or fridges, and if an aisle looks crowded, come back to it later in your shop.

2. If a shop looks too busy, wait outside or come back later

While most major supermarkets are introducing one in/one out policies to limit the number of shoppers in their stores, some smaller grocers have not introduced this yet or may find it hard to enforce. If your usual shop looks too crowded to allow you to stay two metres away from other shoppers, wait outside until it’s quieter or shop elsewhere. 

Many of the major supermarkets offer a click and collect service which could help limit your time queuing and in store, although with increasing demand, available collection slots are  becoming more difficult to come by.

So don’t limit yourself to the big supermarkets – many local food shops are allowing people to call and place orders ahead of time to limit how long they need to spend in their stores, so check whether this is the case for your local butcher or greengrocer and, if it is, get your order in!

3. Get creative with online grocery options

Although the major supermarkets are struggling to meet demand, there are other less conventional options that are still delivering to people. Many restaurants and catering suppliers are getting creative and are now delivering to households, with meat, veg and fruit boxes available for the same week. Keep an eye on social media posts from local community groups for updates on what’s available in your area.

4. Keep your shopping trips to a minimum

Government advice is to shop as little as possible – no more popping to the supermarket for a top-up shop or a few items. When you do venture out, plan ahead and do a full shop buying produce you can freeze so that you know the food will last you as long as possible. Remember to write a list so you don’t forget things!

5. Shop alone

Don’t take the family on your shopping trips. If you’re able, shop alone to reduce the number of people in the store and minimise the risk of others catching the virus.

6. Take care when paying

Take care at self-checkout stations – many people will have touched the screens, so use antibacterial hand gel as soon as you’ve finished your shop. Where possible, use contactless or card payments rather than cash, which may carry germs. Many of the supermarkets are now installing plastic screens at the checkout to protect their employees and customers, but still be conscious of supermarket employees and keep your distance as much as possible to help protect both them and you.

7. Limit the items you touch

To help protect you and other shoppers, try to only touch the items you intend to purchase to limit the spread of  germs. If you buy fresh produce, ensure you wash it thoroughly before use to help wash away any germs that may be lingering.

Be careful about which surfaces you touch – it’s understood the virus that causes COVID-19 can persist on surfaces from a few hours up to a couple of days,1 so make sure you sanitise your hands as soon as possible after being out in public.

8. Remember hand hygiene

Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds both before your supermarket visit and as soon as you get home to reduce the risk of infection spreading. It’s also worth taking an antibacterial hand gel with you and using it as soon as you leave the store.  Finally, try not to touch your face – this is harder than it may seem but important, particularly before you’ve washed your hands.  


1 World Health Organisation



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