Running Errands? Getting a Haircut? Look For These Safety Measures

July 6, 2020

Clinical Contributors to this Story

Cristina Cicogna, M.D. contributes to topics such as Infectious Disease.

Now that New Jersey is moving along in its multi-stage plan to reopen the state’s economy after months of shut downs due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are many more opportunities for you to get out and about. But that doesn’t mean that you should forget about all of the important safety measures you’ve been taking: It’s still important to wear a face covering and practice social distancing, to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in your community.

“The reality is there are still coronavirus cases in New Jersey, and even though the numbers are dropping throughout the state, people still need to take precautions to reduce their risk,” says Cristina Cicogna, M.D., an infectious disease specialist at Hackensack University Medical Center. “We still have no cure for this illness and it still spreads as easily as it did earlier this year.”

Some people should think twice before running errands. If you have a health condition that could put you at higher risk of complications from COVID-19, shopping online is still an option. You may also be able to visit certain stores at off-peak hours which are designated for older adults and those with chronic health conditions.

Ways You Can Reduce Your Own Risk When Shopping

Many people are healthy and eager to venture out, after spending months at home. After the latest wave of reopenings, you can now visit non-essential retail stores, hair salons, barber shops, outdoor restaurants and more. If you’ve been craving a haircut, a pair of new shoes and a meal out, your wish has become reality.

Follow these precautions when running errands:

  • cover your nose and your mouth with a cloth face covering
  • stay 6 feet away from other people
  • use hand sanitizer after leaving a store or business
  • wearing gloves is not necessary
  • wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds as often as possible while out
  • go early or late to avoid crowds
  • stay home if you’re sick

“If you’re generally healthy, you can safely visit these businesses if you use good judgment, including wearing a mask and using hand sanitizer before and after your visit.” Dr. Cicogna says. “The higher risk scenarios occur when you’re in prolonged exposure to other people not wearing masks in indoor spaces.”

What Businesses Are Doing To Create Safer Environments

New Jersey businesses must adhere to state-issued health and safety standards in order to operate. They’re cleaning high-touch surfaces more frequently, including bathrooms, credit card machines and counter areas. They’re also requiring sick employees to stay home. Many businesses are checking the temperatures of customers who visit their locations.

When you enter a store or other business, you want the feeling that you’re in a safe environment. Visit a businesses’ website or social media to see what safety measures they’re taking. Some of the basics include:

When getting a haircut or manicure, look for:

  • businesses that check your temperature before admitting you
  • businesses that have you wait in your car, not a waiting area
  • hand sanitizer stations
  • all employees wearing face coverings
  • plexiglass separating you from salon employees, when possible
  • cashless payment options

When visiting a retail store, look for:

  • hand sanitizer stations
  • all employees wearing face coverings
  • closed fitting rooms
  • plexiglass separating you from cashiers
  • cashless payment options

When shopping in a supermarket, look for:

  • hand sanitizer stations
  • all employees wearing face coverings
  • disinfecting wipes at the entrance, to clean shopping cart handles
  • plexiglass separating you from cashiers
  • cashless payment options

When dining at restaurants, look for:

  • hand sanitizer stations
  • all employees wearing face coverings
  • outdoor tables that are spaced at least 6 feet apart
  • disposable or touchless menus
  • cashless payment options

Next Steps & Resources:

The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.