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Coronavirus: How to grocery shop safely, online and in person

If you’re feeling a little claustrophobic these days, you’re not alone. Many Americans are practicing social distancing to help flatten the curve and slow the spreading of coronavirus, so we can relate.

But even if you’re trying to stay home more, eventually you’ll need to replenish the fridge with groceries. One way to do that is by turning to online shopping. Tap or click here for tips to navigate skyrocketing prices online.

Unfortunately, online shopping isn’t a guaranteed answer to all your shopping needs right now. Online retailers are also running out of stock and one major player is temporarily closing up shop.

Amazon closes Prime Pantry

Amazon has been struggling to keep up with the surge in orders due to the COVID-19 pandemic. You’ve probably noticed local stores are running out of toilet paper, hand sanitizer, bread and other staples. Amazon is facing the same shortages.

That’s why the company recently announced it’s limiting third-party sales to just high-demand products for the time being. It’s also hiring 100,00 workers across the country to try and meet demand. Tap or click here for details.

Unfortunately, the measures Amazon is taking have yet to catch up with demand and it’s closing its Prime Pantry delivery service as a result.

If you go to the site, you’ll see a notice that reads, “Pantry is temporarily closed. We’re busy restocking.”

This means items listed as “Ships & Sold from Pantry” cannot be added to your cart. There’s no word on when Pantry will reopen for business.

Safely shop for groceries online

If you do happen to find available products online, there are some things you need to do in the name of safety.

Research sellers – The Federal Trade Commission warned of numerous online scams related to coronavirus. One threat is online sellers claiming to have in-demand supplies for sale — but they actually don’t have them.

You might place an order and pay for it, then never receive the shipment. The FTC suggests doing an online search for any seller you’re going to buy from and look for reviews to make sure they are legit. If they are scammers, there’s a chance someone has posted about them.

Be careful with packages – No matter where you order products online, you need to handle all deliveries with care. The National Institutes of Health says COVID-19 is capable of clinging to surfaces for a longer period of time than originally thought.

If you order a package from Amazon or another shipping service, the first thing you should do is make sure the delivery person leaves it at your doorstep or in a specific place. This reduces face-to-face interaction, which is key in our widespread social distancing effort to flatten the curve of infection.

Second, you’ll want to assess what kind of package you’re dealing with. If you receive a cardboard box, you should handle it with gloves (if possible) and place it in a safe, secure outdoor location — like a backyard, patio or balcony — for 24 hours. If it’s a plastic package or bag, you’ll want to leave it in your secure location for up to three days.

Those are just a couple of tips for safely handling delivered packages — there are more. Tap or click here for more ways to properly handle orders during the coronavirus pandemic.

Ways to stay safe shopping in person

If you decide to venture out to the local grocery store, there are some things you can do for safe shopping in person, too.

First, when you get to the store, make sure to take advantage of the disinfecting wipes most locations offer at their entrances. Use the wipes to clean the handle on the cart or basket you’re going to use. If the store doesn’t provide wipes, bring some from home just in case.

You should handle products with care, too. Instead of grabbing produce directly, pick it up with the help of a plastic produce bag. Or try wearing gloves during your shopping trip so you don’t directly touch anything. Then, when you get produce home, make sure to wash it immediately.

Before going shopping, check with your local store for special hours. Many grocers across the U.S. have implemented special hours for those in high-risk categories like the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions. This is very helpful and keeps high-risk groups from encountering potential carriers of coronavirus.

Another phenomenon is some grocery stores are running out of bags to put your purchases in. That’s why it’s a good idea to bring your own totes from home to pack your groceries in.

But don’t forget to clean your totes after every use. Many can be cleaned in your washer and dryer. Some totes can be wiped down inside and out with those disinfecting wipes.

If you don’t feel comfortable shopping in person, you might still be able to shop locally. Many grocery stores offer home delivery now, just check their websites for details. Follow the same instructions for grocery deliveries that we told you about above for package deliveries.

We don’t know how long this pandemic is going to last, so it’s a good idea to start implementing these tips now. That way we can all help keep each other safe.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have regarding a medical condition, advice, or health objectives.

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