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Tips For Buying Groceries During Pandemic: Keep Your Distance, Don't Hoard

Grocers and Gov. Kate Brown have simple, clear advice for people headed to the grocery store in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic: Stay calm, keep some distance and remember other people need supplies, too.

“I want to ask Oregonians to be respectful of your neighbors and your communities,” Brown said Friday. “I know folks are going in, first thing, to the grocery store and clearing the shelves, but that really does a hardship on your friends and neighbors. Honestly, it’s not necessary.”

Many grocery stores in Oregon and Southwest Washington have seen big crowds and a run on certain products – including nonperishables and toilet paper. The pandemic, and concerns about supplies, have led to long lines. Markets have responded by setting up special hours for seniors and limiting the number of people allowed inside at one time.

Brown said people are worrying about the wrong things: “All the conversations I’ve had with grocery industry and food producers… they are working day and night, literally, to get food products out of their fields, out of their freezers… and onto grocers’ shelves. We have adequate food. Our pulp and paper folks assure me we have adequate toilet paper as well.”

The Northwest Grocery Association put out guidelines this week for shoppers on how to navigate markets during the health crisis. Among them: Keep 6 feet between yourself and other customers, use self-checkout stations whenever possible, and bag your own groceries.

Top on the association's list: Don’t hoard. Stores are being restocked. If shelter-in-place rules are implemented, you will still be able to buy food.

Brown echoed that.

“This is truly a situation where each one of our actions makes a difference and impacts the lives of others," she said. "Your actions – buying eight rolls of toilet paper versus 80? It does impact those around you. Please be respectful. Please be a good Oregonian.”

Copyright 2020 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Anna Griffin