A view of post-COVID-19 grocery shopping

By Ashley Reilly

Walking into the grocery store, customers grab carts and baskets. Some customers are carrying children with them and others are talking on cell phones. Walking through each aisle, it can feel routine, pick up the peaches and check for the perfect firmness, maybe grab a cake mix for a fun time. It’s a grocery store, there really are no rules to follow. 

A few months later, there are masks on everyone’s faces, cart handles are being wrapped in tinfoil, and screens stand between cashiers and customers. In almost no time at all, the once routine and relaxing grocery store has become one of the more dangerous places to be.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, everyday life has been flipped upside down. Stay-at-home orders have spread across the U.S., shopping trips are stripped to the essentials, and school has moved to the living room. All of these changes have opened many peoples’ eyes. While the changes are essential now, should they go away once the pandemic is over?

Huntley High School senior Reilley Curtiss has been shopping for her family during quarantine. In order to eliminate her exposure, she has only shopped at Aldi, and even only seeing one store she has experienced significant changes. 

“Aldi has been enforcing a one-way aisle system limiting the crossover of people bumping into each other,” Curtiss said. “Aldi has workers disinfecting all grocery carts as they are being used before the next customer comes into contact with the handles. They have protective shields at the registers being used. Hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes are visible at all stations. All workers were wearing masks and gloves.”

Furthermore, markings are put near the check out showing customers where to stand in order to maintain a 6-foot distance. Signs cover the walls requesting that customers maintain the social-distancing guidelines. 

Another store taking precaution due to the pandemic is Walmart. Senior Ryan Walton is employed at Walmart. Walton has not worked since the stay at home order was put into place, but knows the precautions employees are taking. 

“Associates are being asked/encouraged to wear masks/gloves. Healthy associates are taking the temperature of [other] associates upon arrival to make sure they are healthy and sending them home if they exceed, or do not reach, the recommended temperature,” Walton said. 

Walmart has also put in place shields between cashiers and customers. Prior to the pandemic, Walton would see customers constantly touching products, putting things into their carts, and later putting them back on the shelves. Children often touch everything, and then their faces. Rarely, did he see someone carrying hand sanitizer around. 

While not every action put in place should be continued, this pandemic has been eye opening. After this, grocery stores should continue to provide wipes, hand sanitizer to customers, and sanitizing carts and baskets. Customers should be more aware of how often they are touching surfaces, like metal door handles, that may carry viruses. 

“I hope this whole situation teaches people to be more clean. A lot of people I have interacted with have confessed to not realizing how dirty your everyday life can be,” Curtiss said. “People shouldn’t just sanitize after going in public just because a virus breaks out. There are germs and bacteria everywhere, whether there is a breakout or not.”