Shoppers are being given top tips to keep themselves – and others – safe during the coronavirus emergency.

Although residents must stay at home to help save lives, people can leave the house for a limited number of reasons as infrequently as possible, including to pick up essential supplies such as food and medicine.

When out in public, people must stay 2 metres – or 6 feet – away from other people at all times, unless they are members of the same household. 

To enable shoppers to keep their distance, retailers which have been permitted to remain open, including supermarkets and corner shops, have been encouraged to place limits on how many people can be in store at any one time and to ask customers to stand 2 metres apart when in store and whilst queuing. In addition customers are encouraged to pay using contactless to reduce the amount of cash being handled by staff. 

People are reminded that they must stay at home at all times if they are either shielding or they or someone in their house has symptoms of coronavirus.

Councillor Jasbir Jaspal, the City of Wolverhampton Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health and Wellbeing, said: “While we all need to stay at home as much as possible to prevent the spread of coronavirus and save lives, going shopping for essential food supplies is one of the reasons that many people are still able to leave their homes. 

"That brings with it an element of risk, because the safest place for us all to be at the moment is in the home. But there are a few simple steps we can take to make going out shopping as safe as possible, for us and other people."

Top tips include: 

  • limiting how often you need to go shopping, and the amount of time that you are out. No matter how well you manage to stick to the social distancing guidelines, it is still safer to be at home. Purchase groceries with a longer life, and perhaps find out when the least busy times are at your local stores
  • practising social distancing. Staying a safe distance from other people is the most important thing you can do to protect yourself and others while you are out. Anyone can spread the virus to others, even if they don’t have symptoms. Two metres, or 2 shopping trolleys, is the minimum distance you should be from any other person at all times. Lots of supermarkets have put measures in place to help people to keep this safe distance
  • being patient. Social distancing measures mean that queues will be longer and you may need to wait outside the shop for a while. Whilst this can feel frustrating, you must cooperate with these new rules for everyone’s safety 
  • chatting to others while you are queuing – while keeping a safe distance. Many people may be feeling particularly lonely at this time and a kind word can go a long way
  • only buying what you need. The pressure on shops to keep stocked up, sometimes with reduced staff, is ongoing. However, only buying what you need will make sure there is enough for everyone
  • washing your hands thoroughly with warm soapy water for 20 seconds before you leave your house and when you get back, and trying not to touch your mouth, nose or eyes whilst you are out as this is how the virus can get into your body from any contaminated surfaces that you touch. Some supermarkets have hand sanitiser for you to use, or handwashing stations 
  • not smoking. Smoking is known to put people at greater risk of becoming unwell from coronavirus, and second hand smoke puts others at risk too. As part of taking care of yourself and others during this time, do not smoke whilst you are queuing outside shops. If you feel you might be ready to take the biggest step for your own health and quit, why not try to #QuitForCovid?

In addition, retailers are being urged to take specific measures to protect staff and specific information is available at Guidance for food businesses on coronavirus (COVID-19). The council has also produced a poster for shops and businesses to print off and display, advising staff and customers of social distancing measures in operation on the premises. 

The latest information and guidance around coronavirus is available at GOV.UK and on the council’s own coronavirus pages at Coronavirus advice and information. There’s lots of advice on how people can protect themselves and their families from coronavirus from the NHS at Advice for everyone - Coronavirus (COVID-19).  

The council’s Stay Safe, Be Kind campaign offers clear and simple advice about how people can help themselves, and how they can support others who may be particularly vulnerable at this time. For more information, please visit Stay Safe, Be Kind.