How to shop for your family during a pandemic

These strategies for planning meals and grocery lists are recommended by public health officials.
By: Greggory Clark
April 18, 2020
Image courtesy of Ottawa Public Health

There are many strategies that you can use when grocery shopping to avoid the transmission of COVID-19. To separate myth from fact, Ottawa Public Health has published this comprehensive list of safe shopping tips.

Visit for the complete resource, which also includes practical advice for meal planning and budgeting, storing foods, cooking at home, and eating food prepared by others.

  • Avoid going to stores if you are sick, even with mild symptoms. Try to have a person who is well go for you. If you become unwell while out shopping, leave the store immediately. Always cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your arm, not your hand.

  • Make a list before you go to minimize your time in the store and avoid shopping during peak hours.

  • Offer to purchase food items for others that might be self-isolating (friends, family, or neighbours).

  • See if your store has specific times blocked off for older adults and individuals with a weak immune system/who are at risk. You can also use a grocery delivery service or click-collect (curb pick up) to avoid going into stores.

  • Go shopping alone. Do not bring family members with you. This will help reduce the number of people in the store and help with physical distancing.

  • Wash your hands with soap and water before and after entering a grocery store, as well as after unloading your groceries. If soap and water are not available, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

  • If possible, clean your grocery cart with a sanitizing wipe. Some stores will provide this option upon arrival.

  • Practice physical distancing and maintain a 2 metre (6 feet) distance from others. This includes while shopping and standing in line.

  • Avoid touching your face. Avoid licking your finger to help open plastic produce bags.

  • Try to only handle foods, including vegetables and fruits that you plan to buy. This will reduce the spread of germs.

  • Clean your reusable grocery bags frequently to help eliminate bacteria and reduce the risk of food-related illnesses. Some locations may only allow the use of plastic bags that are provided by the store.

  • Tap to pay rather than paying with money. This reduces the surfaces you touch and limits the spread of germs.

Source: Ottawa Public Health


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