UACES Facebook Is it still safe to get food at restaurants, food stands and grocery stores?
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Is it Safe?

by Lindsey Sexton - April 13, 2020

collage of interior of grocery store, farmers market table, and restaurant exterior with words is it safe


Luckily, our food systems are still safe!

Our food  sources are still safe options for retrieving food. Although we need to proceed a bit differently than we typically would. 

How to acquire food at a restaurant during COVID-19

There is no current indication that takeout, drive-thru, or delivery meals will increase illness. This option is a good risk management choice, especially for high risk and elderly groups because it helps maintain social distancing and reduces the number of touch points. Handling food packaging should be followed by handwashing and/or using hand sanitizer. It’s worth noting, many delivery programs have also instituted no touch/no interaction options, which further reduces risk.

Shopping at Farmers’ Markets and Produce Stands

The Secretary of Health’s March 26, 2020, Directive applies to any function that operates within an enclosed indoor or outdoor space. However, markets are critical in ensuring Arkansans have access to healthy food options. Therefore, markets that operate in unenclosed outdoor spaces are exempt but are limited to the sales of food products only. The sales of nonfood items, including but not limited to crafts, live animals, or clothing is not allowed at this time. Additionally, live musicians, performances, cooking demonstrations, or other events where crowds may gather are not allowed. Market Operators, vendors, and customers are expected to maintain appropriate social distancing of at least six (6) feet. 

Shopping at Grocery Stores

Currently there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19. Coronaviruses need a living host (animal or human) to grow in and cannot grow in food. Like other viruses, it is possible that the virus that causes COVID-19 can survive on surfaces or objects. COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly from person to person through respiratory droplets that can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. As always, follow good hygiene and food safety practices when shopping for and preparing food.


Current Recommendations

The @CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission. Cloth face masks can help slow the spread of #COVID19 by preventing you from touching your nose and mouth and shielding you and others from larger respiratory droplets from coughs and sneezes. However, cloth face masks do NOT offer protection from small aerosolized virus particles produced through sneezing.

For more COVID-19 answers visit The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture-Extension is #StillOnTheJob!