Watch CBS News

Is shopping in stores safe during the coronavirus pandemic?

Retailers reinvent holiday shopping amid pandemic
Retailers get creative to reinvent holiday shopping amid COVID-19 pandemic 02:06

Is shopping in stores safe during the pandemic? There are ways to reduce risk, but health experts advise avoiding it when possible.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says holiday shopping in crowded stores is a "higher risk" activity and that people should limit any in-person shopping, including at supermarkets. Instead, the agency recommends shopping online, visiting outdoor markets or using curbside pickup, where workers bring orders to your car.

Off-peak hours

If you need to enter a store, go during off hours when there will likely be fewer people. Wear a mask and stay at least 6 feet away from others.

Small businesses struggle despite record breaking Black Friday sales 01:52

Try to spend as little time inside the store as possible, said Dr. Isaac Weisfuse, a public health expert at Cornell University. "You just want to go in and out," he said. "Get your shopping done and move on."

Use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol when you leave, and then wash your hands with soap and water when you get home.

Precautions don't eliminate risk

Retailers have been doing all kinds of things to make shoppers feel safe, but they don't eliminate the risk. Some check shoppers' temperatures at the entrance, for example, but an infected person may not have a fever and can still spread the virus.

The plastic barriers between customers and cashiers also might not block all droplets from an infected person, Weisfuse said. If the air in a store feels stuffy, he said that's a sign of poor ventilation, and you should leave.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.