From Grocery Runs to Manicures: What’s Safe to Do in the Time of Coronavirus

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Welp, we can’t really go on an international vacation right now, and many of us are being asked to start working from home as the coronavirus becomes more of a reality for all Americans. But as we take the necessary precautions to stay healthy—sneezing into the crook of our arms, constantly washing our hands and trying so hard not to touch our face—we’re also trying to get into a new routine.

This means cutting back on some of our favorite luxuries, like manicures, movies and meals made by other people, but we know it’s necessary for the time being. To help make this transition a little smoother, we rounded up a list of things you can do at home, plus ways to stay safe when you have to go out.

1. Going to the grocery store

You have to eat, but should you stock up for a few weeks? The CDC recommends “having enough household items and groceries on hand so that you will be prepared to stay at home for a period of time.” This applies to everyone, but particularly those who are at a greater risk of not only getting coronavirus but experiencing the worst of it—including individuals over 60 and especially over 80, and anyone with heart disease, diabetes or a lowered immune system.

In other words, while you may not need 45 pounds of chicken cutlets, you will need to shop for weekly groceries. In light of the recommendation to stay away from crowds (we’re talking 50 people or more), it’s best to go to the store at a low-traffic time, like the middle of the day or very early in the morning. And try to stay several feet away from your fellow shoppers.

Remember, too, that with a lot of people packing into stores, there are a lot more hands on all those products. While you’re shopping, make sure not to touch your face, use hand sanitizer if you have it and wash your hands as soon as you get home.

2. Taking public transportation

If you can avoid public transportation right now, do that. If you can’t and have to hold on to poles or straphanger loops during your bus ride, don’t touch your face, and do your best to stay as far away as possible from other passengers. And, you guessed it, wash your hands as soon as you can.

3. Dining out

It’s true that date night might feel ruined if you live in New York, New Jersey, Illinois, California, Massachusetts, Washington, Pennsylvania, Ohio or anywhere else where restaurants and bars have been ordered to close in order to keep customers out for the next few weeks. But that’s no reason for you and your household to eat boring meals. Break out the tablecloths, linen napkins, candleholders and fancy china to take pantry-staple pasta night to the next level with recipes like this pasta limone, cacio e pepe or one-pot tomato basil pasta. Mangiano tutti!

4. Going to the gym

Gyms are closing up shop for the foreseeable future across the country, but even if your gym is still open right now, it’s not a good idea to work out there. Many people don’t wipe down the equipment and machines they use when they’re through, and honestly, gyms are virtual breeding grounds for germs and bacteria during normal times. Avoid exercising inches away from other gym members and get your sweat on at home. Exercising has been linked to stronger immune systems, and it’s important to do everything we can to stay healthy right now. 

No matter what your preferred method of exercise, you can find dozens of free classes and tutorials online (the Yoga Studio app for flows, Joanna Soh’s YouTube channel for HIIT circuits, or—shameless plug—PureWow’s core, arm and free weight guides). Anytime a set requires weights, your water bottles (or totes full of canned soups for heavier weights) can be subbed in.

Don’t forget that while we’re being safe by staying away from our friends, this doesn’t mean there’s a moratorium on going outside. Have a backyard? Phenomenal—do jumping jacks in it! A nearby park that’s still open to the public? Great, run through it and away from other people!

Oh, and wash your hands when you’re through.

5. Going to the movies

Movie theaters are a place where friends and families gather together—which is exactly why now isn’t the best time to go. The CDC says that one person can pass the illness to another if they’re within six feet of each other; add to that the possibility of someone coughing, sneezing, laughing or even talking during a two-hour movie and this feels even more likely. Instead, pull the comforter from your bed, throw your couch cushions onto the floor, make some popcorn and settle in. May we suggest those Oscar nominees you may have missed, like Marriage Story or The Two Popes, both available on Netflix.

6. Getting a mani

When was the last time you got a mani while maintaining a six-foot distance from your nail technician? Yeah, not possible. Six feet is the standard instituted by the CDC to rest assured that you’re “social distancing” yourself well enough to stay healthy. But since you simply can’t comply with this rule while having a manicurist create the perfect French tip, we’re taking matters into our own hands, so to speak. The bonus to doing a mani at home? No ruining your nails by fumbling with your keys or doors when you’re finished!

Keep in mind, though, that your nails are a breeding ground for germs (ew), as Purvi Parikh, M.D., allergist and infectious disease specialist at NYU Langone Health, tells us, so it might be worth clipping them for now. “Keep your nails short if you can to avoid having germs grow in there,” Dr. Parikh says, “but if you have long nails, make sure to scrub under them.” 

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From 2019-2020 Ariel Scotti held the role of Editor at PureWow covering trends, wellness and more.