Staying safe when buying essentials

As most of us (with the exception of essential service workers) hunker down at home to prevent the spread of COVID-19, there will be times we need to go pick up essential items. In some cases, these items can be dropped off to us.

But how do we do that safely?

It’s important to remember that this virus is spread primarily by droplets from the respiratory system. That means the main way you could catch it is through close contact with someone who has it, and who is coughing or sneezing.

A second but less likely way COVID-19 is spread is by touching a contaminated surface with your hand and then touching your face. This is called a smear infection.

If you are frequently washing your hands before and after doing things like eating or wiping your nose, you will significantly reduce your chance of becoming infected.

But how do you reduce the risk of catching the virus if you need groceries or other essentials?

Picking up essential items

Limiting the contact you have with others is key to staying safe from this virus. If you can, buy your groceries online and have them delivered to your home or pick them up curbside at the store.

If you must go out, visit the store during non-peak hours, which reduces your likelihood of coming into contact with someone who has symptoms. Check with your store: many companies reserve one hour each morning for seniors and people with health issues. If that’s you—go then.

When you get home, rinse your produce well and disinfect plastic and cardboard food packaging. The most important thing to remember is to wash your hands when handling food and before you eat.

Using cloth bags? Wash them in hot water after use. Plastic bags? Recycle them. Using a hard-plastic bin to collect your groceries? Make sure you wash it in soapy water as COVID-19 is proven to live on hard plastics for up to three days.

For all matters related to food safety, check out this link.


There’s always a certain degree of risk associated with everything we do. From what we currently know, there doesn’t seem to be evidence that the virus lives on prepared food. Even so, it doesn’t hurt to wipe down the containers of your delivery order (especially if it’s cardboard) with a sanitizing wipe and then wash your hands for at least 20 seconds before eating.

While it might feel rude, it’s safer to have the deliveries dropped at your door and to receive the item after the delivery person has left your doorway. Canada Post is recommending that people ‘give employees space and avoid opening the door or greeting them personally when they are at the door to deliver.’

Are there other daily tasks that you have questions about during COVID-19? Let us know!

If you have general questions about COVID-19, visit the provincial coronavirus info hub or call the toll-free federal info line at 1-833-784-4397.

More details on self-isolation
COVID-19-related restrictions in Nova Scotia

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Submitted By: Megan Bernard

Great tips! Another good idea if you have to go to the store is to purchase enough for a week or ideally longer to avoid potentially repeatedly exposing yourself, and the store workers, to the virus. Please avoid multiple visits to the store! Plan ahead! Buy a lot!