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COVID-19: Leaving the House

Although the safest route to prevent infection of COVID-19 is to stay home, it is not an option all the time. This article will go over general guidelines and how to stay safe for different errands in public.

Before You Leave The House

Before you leave, do some research and self reflection on if you should go. Here are some questions to ask yourself before you leave the house:

  • Is COVID-19 spreading in my community?
  • What are the local orders community?
  • Am I or someone I have close contact with at severe risk for illness?
  • Will I have to share any tools, items, or equipment with other people?
  • Do I practice preventative measures daily?
  • Will I need to take public transportation?
  • If I get sick with COVID-19, will I have to miss school or work?
  • Do I know what to do if I get sick?

General Guidelines

During this time, there are some basic guidelines that should be followed no matter where you go in public.

  • If you are sick, stay home. COVID-19 is not fully understood and although there are precautions that are known to reduce transmission, the only way to ensure it is not spread is to not expose it to others. 
  • Use online services to complete errands. If you can do it online then you can’t be exposed to anybody. 
  • Wear a cloth face covering that covers your mouth and nose and maintain 6-feet of social distance between you and others. 
  • Use hand sanitizer after leaving stores and after touching any public surfaces such as door handles, self-checkout screens, grocery carts, and gas pump handles. 
  • When you get home, wash your hands for at least 20 seconds.

Grocery Shopping

Having groceries delivered or curbside pick-up is the safest way to prevent receiving or transmitting COVID-19. Try to only go to the store for essentials when you absolutely need to. Some ways to grocery shop safer include:

  • Stay 6-feet away from others
  • Wear a cloth face covering that covers the nose and mouth
  • Try to go during hours when fewer people are there (early morning or night). Google maps often has information on what times of day are busiest at major grocery stores.
  • See if the store has special hours for people at higher risk (elderly, immunocompromised, and those with underlying medical conditions)
  • Disinfect shopping carts
  • Do not touch eyes, nose, or mouth
  • Use touchless pay when possible. If you must touch a keypad, use hand sanitizer after paying.

It is recommended to use hand sanitizer after leaving the store and to wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after getting home. Follow food safety guidelines but there is no evidence that food or food packaging plays a significant role in COVID-19 transmission.

Deliveries and Take Out

Food has not been a source of transmission for COVID-19 but caution should still be expressed in the process of obtaining it. Deliveries and mail exchange a lot of hands in their process to your home or mailbox so proper handling is important for decreasing possibility of contracting the virus.

Some ways to get food delivered and take out safer include:

  • Pay online or over the phone when possible
  • Accept deliveries without in-person contact (ask for deliveries to be left outside in a safe location)

Safer ways to receive deliveries and mail:

  • Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer after accepting deliveries or collecting mail
  • After accepting deliveries or food, wash hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol
  • After collecting mail from the mailbox or post office, wash hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol


Banking is extremely important and can’t be avoided despite the pandemic. When all possible, complete banking online and use virtual options.

Tips for banking sagely:

  • Avoid face-to-face as much as possible
  • Use drive-thru banking services, ATM, or mobile banking apps for routine transactions
  • Look to see if the bank uses extra prevention practices such as plexiglass barriers, staff with cloth masks, ect
  • Wear cloth face covering that covers mask and nose
  • Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol after any deposit, withdrawal, drive-thru, exchange, or ATM use
  • Wash hands when after arriving at home or next destination with a restroom

Getting Gas

In order to keep going everyone must stop to refuel. Gas stations are exposed to the public and most are not regularly cleaned.

Some ways to get gas safer:

  • Use disinfecting wipes on buttons and handles when possible
  • After fueling, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol then wash hands at the next opportunity. 
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