Sourced from: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Written by: Lauryn Feil
With the holidays comes shopping, lots of shopping, which can become a complicated task when COVID-19 cases are expected to continually rise. Ordering gifts online and supporting local businesses from a distance remains the safest way to shop as we continue to navigate the ongoing global pandemic. If you need to shop in person, personal adjustments and precautionary measures should be taken to help keep you as well as those around you safe. Follow this guide to limit your exposure to and prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other airborne illnesses to ensure we all enjoy a happy and safe holiday season.
*During this time, we suggest you continue to abide by all CDC recommendations and follow your local and state regulations. Information in this guide is sourced from the CDC and can be found here.*
1. First and foremost, avoid shopping in person if you have tested positive for COVID-19, have been exposed to COVID-19 within the past 14 days, or are currently experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, which include:
- Shortness of breath
- Muscle pain
- Sore throat
- New loss of taste or smell
2. It is best practice to only visit stores when you really need to. This will lower your chance of being exposed to COVID-19 and other airborne illness, such as cold or flu. If possible, order food, gifts, and other essential items online for home delivery or curbside pickup. Shipping and delivery times may vary, so try to plan ahead.
3. If you must visit a store, go when it’s least busy, such as in the early morning or late evening, to avoid crowds. Check with your store to see if they have adjusted hours.
4. If you are at a higher risk for severe illness, such as individuals with underlying conditions or those who are over the age of 65, consider checking with the store you plan to visit to see if they offer special shopping hours for those at higher risk to ensure you have a safer shopping experience.
5. Before entering a store, wear a cloth face covering that covers your nose and mouth and use hand sanitizer to help prevent the spread of germs.
6. If you are using a shopping cart or basket, disinfect with wipes if available. Most stores are working very hard to disinfect commonly used items, but it is important to take personal precautions as well.
7. Use marked entry and exit points and follow any directional signs or floor markings while shopping or waiting in lines to maintain at least six feet of distance between you and other shoppers when possible.
8. Do not touch your eyes, nose, mouth, or face covering with unwashed hands. Try to only touch the products you plan to purchase.
9. If possible, use contactless payment. Pay without touching money, a card, or a keypad. If you must use money, a card, or a keypad, use hand sanitizer immediately after paying.
10. Upon leaving the store, use hand sanitizer.
11. When you get home, put your items away and wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
While we all deserve a little extra holiday cheer this year, the last thing we want is to increase the spread COVID-19. The greatest gift this year is keeping yourself as well as your family, friends, loved ones, and community safe and healthy. Take precautions whenever possible and spread holiday cheer safely from a distance. We wish you all a happy and healthy holiday season.
Download UT Health Austin’s safe in-person holiday shopping guide to share here.