Grocery Shopping in a Pandemic

A recent trip to two local grocery stores gave me hope that can cautiously begin a return to normalcy.

Sofia Brickner, Staff Writer

After being quarantined for almost two months, I was overjoyed to finally venture out of the house to simply go inside a grocery store again for the first time. Although I was aware of the basic guidelines implemented to be able to enter a store, such as wearing a mask and social distancing, I was curious to witness what it was actually like upon entering and how stores and their processes have changed overall to keep customers safe during this time.

Looking back on life before the pandemic, it’s hard to wrap my head around how I could just hop into the car to go out and about without a care in the world. Now, it’s a bit trickier to prepare, as I have to make sure I have a mask ready to go and easily accessible hand sanitizer.

The first store I visited was Giant Eagle Market District in Wexford, and immediately upon entering the store a freshly sanitized cart was given by a mask-wearing employee. I was happy to see how cooperative and respectful everyone was, and it was nice to be able to be out in public and see people again, if only for the average grocery store run.

Hopefully, the courtesy, common-sense precautions, and attention to public safety that I observed during my grocery outing will continue to prevail and will carry us through these difficult times until better times come our way.”

Upon maneuvering through the aisles, most of which were marked with a one-way traffic pattern, I noticed that they had huge stickers on the floor, alerting customers of entrances and exits to enforce safety measures. For checkout, floor stickers were also allocated for customers to claim their place in line while remaining 6 feet apart.

When I visited Whole Foods, customers were standing in a line before entering, which went on along the side of the building. Customers stayed at least six feet apart and waited before they were cleared to enter. I noticed how attentive the staff was in managing customer entry to the store, effectively handing out carts and making sure customers got what they needed. In front of the cashiers, there were plexiglass barriers to also help enforce safety measures to protect both the customer and  the cashier.

Although it may be quite a while before everything goes back to normal depending largely on the availability of a vaccine or other reliable treatments, things are looking better as we are soon to be entering the green phase for many of the counties in the state of Pennsylvania. Hopefully, the courtesy, common-sense precautions, orderliness, and attention to public health and safety that I observed during my grocery outing will continue to prevail and will carry us through these difficult times until better times come our way.

I’m sure I’m speaking not only for myself when I say thank you and much respect to everyone working on the front lines to keep the public safe and healthy and to provide us with food and critical goods and services during a very difficult time.