man wearing face mask using a disinfecting wipe to clean shopping cart

Grocery Shopping During COVID-19

There’s no doubt that your grocery shopping routine has been thrown off by COVID-19. People across Central Indiana have asked a lot of great questions about grocery shopping during the pandemic. Here are answers that should help you stay safe when going to the store.

Is it safe to go to the grocery store?

As long as you follow the normal precautions against COVID-19, going to the store for groceries is safe. Make a list of the supplies you’ll need for a couple weeks, and know which aisle to find them in. Disinfect your shopping cart, stick to your plan and don’t linger longer than you need to.

Practice social distancing by staying a distance of at least two shopping carts away from other shoppers. Aisles can get pretty crowded, so be patient and try not to pass people in front of you unless you absolutely have to.

What if my local store is crowded?

If you feel anxious about going into a crowded grocery store, most major stores are offering curbside pickup or delivery services. You can have the supplies you need delivered right to your car or house. Many people are using these services, so plan ahead and order before you run out of the groceries you need.

If you’re over the age of 60 or have a compromised immune system, many stores are offering special shopping hours in the morning. These times are less crowded, and less of a risk because the store has been disinfected the previous evening. Call your local store to see if they offer these senior hours.

Should I wear a mask to the store?

Guidelines around masks have changed a lot since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak. Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that you wear a barrier over your face whenever you are in a public space. That means you should be wearing a mask when you go grocery shopping if you have one.

Professionally made masks can be hard to find right now, but you have options. If you have a clean bandanna lying around the house, it makes a perfectly fine barrier to wear outside of the house. You can also make your own cloth mask at home. Here are instructions on how to make one.

REMEMBER: Masks and other barriers are a precautionary measure, but they are NOT 100% protection against the virus. Continue to wash your hands regularly and avoid touching your face even if you’re wearing a barrier.

Be sure to wear your mask properly, covering your mouth and nose without removing it or touching your face while at the store. Follow these simple guidelines to ensure your health, and the health of others: 

Face mask do's and don'ts

Should I wear gloves to the store?

Wearing gloves won’t prevent the spread of COVID-19. The logic behind wearing gloves to the grocery store is that it won’t allow the virus to get on your hands. While that’s true, those same gloves would spread the virus to everything you touch.

Because the novel coronavirus enters the body through the nose, mouth and eyes, the best thing you can do is to keep your hands clean and avoid touching your face. That holds true whether you’re wearing gloves or not.

Here’s a simple hand hygiene routine you can follow before and after you go shopping:

  • Before leaving the house — Wash your hands thoroughly.
  • While in the store — Avoid touching your face.
  • When you get back to your car — Use hand sanitizer.
  • When you get back home — Wash your hands thoroughly.

What should I do with my groceries when I get home?

The novel coronavirus can live on certain surfaces like cardboard for 24 hours and on others like plastic up to three days. You can wipe down your groceries if it makes you feel safer, but the best thing you can do is wash your hands and disinfect your countertops once everything is put away.

If you’re worried about getting COVID-19 from food itself, you can breathe a sigh of relief. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is currently no evidence of the disease being contracted from food. If you follow normal food safety precautions like washing produce and fully cooking meat, it’s perfectly safe to eat food you get from the store.


You can learn more about COVID-19 and how Community is rising to the challenge to keep our community safe by reading our COVID-19 FAQ.