Buying Grocery or Work From Office: What Precautions Must I Take?

Here’s all you need to know while stepping out of your house during the coronavirus pandemic.

4 min read
People wearing face masks in the wake of coronavirus pandemic stand in queue to buy groceries, at Churchgate in Mumbai, Saturday, 21 March  2020.  Image used for representation.

With just one more week to go for lockdown 3.0 to end, more and more people are stepping out of their homes – be it to buy groceries, go on morning walks, or even resume work from office.

As India awaits decision on whether the lockdown will be extended further, here’s all you need to know while stepping out of your house during the coronavirus pandemic.

Who can step out & Who cannot?

Pregnant women, children below the age of 10, and persons above 65 years of age are not allowed to step out unless there's a medical emergency. Those who are living in containment zones also cannot step out of their houses.

The others can step out of their houses for all essential and the limited non-essential services that are allowed.

I live in a red zone. Do I need a pass to step out of my house?

No, those who live in red zones do not need a pass to step out of their house or for travel within the district or town.

However, people from red zones need a travel pass to enter other districts. As of now, inter-district travel, even within the state, is prohibited.

I want to visit my parents who are living in the same city but a different area. What precautions must I take?

Most Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs) across the country have prohibited entry of visitors during lockdown 3.0. However, if you are allowed entry:

  • Remember to wear a mask while travelling
  • Carry your ziplock to place your mask in when not in use
  • Wash your hands for 20-40 seconds on entering the parent/relative/friend's house
  • Avoid physical contact like hugging them or shaking their hands
  • Carry minimum belongings and sanitize if possible.

Does the government recommend visiting friends and relatives?

No, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) does not recommend visiting friends or family during the lockdown period.

The Centre has maintained that people should step out of their homes only for essential work.

What precautions can I take while going grocery shopping?

  • It is mandatory to wear masks in public place so that your nose and mouth is covered
  • Avoid entering a crowded shop
  • Maintain at least 2 metres of physical distancing with others in the shop. Most shop owners and security personnel are now rationing the number of people who enter the shop
  • Use a paper list so that you can pick things quickly
  • When you are outside, avoid touching your phone
  • Use a hand sanitizer before entering and exiting the store
  • Once you are back home, it is recommended to wash your hands for 20 seconds and use a hand sanitizer
  • Leave your delivery parcels, groceries and other non-perishables in the sun for a few hours before you take it inside the home
  • Wash your fruits and vegetables like you do usually. Do not use soap or disinfectants to wash them

I go out on walks every morning. What precautions should I follow?

  • Make sure you maintain physical distance of at least 2 metres
  • Wear a mask so that your nose and mouth are covered
  • Avoid walks in places where people congregate, instead walk in your own neighbourhood
  • Group walks are not allowed
  • Try walking on the terrace or balcony, if possible
  • Avoid touching your phone while you are walking

My employer has asked me to work from office. What precautions should I be taking while getting to work?

  • If you are taking a shared cab hired by your employers, make sure you wipe the door handles
  • Wear a mask and carry a zip-lock to put it in, when you are not using it
  • On reaching office, ensure that you wash your hands and use a sanitizer
  • Avoid using the biometric
  • Avoid shaking hands, hugging your colleagues
  • Maintain at least 6 feet distance from each other
  • Avoid large physical meetings
  • Social distancing at work places shall be ensured through adequate gaps between shifts, staggering the lunch breaks of staff, etc
  • Frequent sanitization of entire workplace, common facilities and all points which come into human contact, eg door handles etc, shall be ensured, including between shifts
  • When you return home, wash your hands for 20 seconds. Wash and dry your mask and gloves

What other precautions should those stepping out regularly take?

If you are someone who has been stepping out regularly during the period, ensure that you disinfect the following items at least once every day:

  • Wallet
  • Hand Bag
  • Phone
  • Door Knobs
  • Keys
  • Steering Wheel
  • Things you typically touch a lot in a day

Is it mandatory for me to wear gloves every time I step out of the house?

The Health Ministry has not issued any guidelines regarding wearing of gloves while stepping out during the pandemic.

How many people are allowed to travel in a car or two wheeler?

In red zones, movement of cycle rickshaws and auto rickshaws, running of taxis and cab aggregators, intra-district and inter-district plying of buses will not be allowed.

However, movement of individuals in private vehicles for permitted activities mentioned above, will be allowed in the following way:

  • Not more than three passengers in a four wheeler, including the driver
  • In case of two-wheelers, no pillion riders will be allowed
  • In orange and green zones, pillion riders are allowed on two-wheelers. Cabs and taxis, along with buses with 50 percent capacity will be allowed in green zone

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