Expert tips for safe holiday shopping

By GMA TEAM, ABC News

(NEW YORK) — As COVID-19 concerns continue to prompt new warnings and restrictions, health officials have issued guidance for holiday shoppers.

Dr. Michael Hirsh, medical director for the city of Worcester’s Division of Public Health, told ABC News about the possible risks for people who may be shopping in real life vs. online.

“Make the switch to doing your retail shopping, by home delivery, or by curbside pickup,” he suggested. “Every trip that you take outside of your bubble and is a risk.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reiterated its guidance for running errands in person.

Infections tied to shopping in El Paso, Texas, during November accounted for more than half of all cases seen in a weeks worth of the city’s contact tracing data.

“Indoors with poor ventilation and people close together is a recipe for cases to emerge,” Dr. John Brownstein, epidemiologist at Boston Children’s Hospital, told ABC News.

That said, retailers nationwide have done everything they can to reduce the risk of possible transmission by limiting shopper capacities, enforcing facial coverings and social distancing, and adding plexiglass dividers at checkout counters.

According to the National Retail Federation, stores have continued to make public health and safety a top priority.

“Retailers have been on the front lines of the pandemic, ensuring that people have access to — important goods and services,” the organization said.

Brownstein explained that “waiting in a line in close proximity to someone else could be problematic.”

“A long engagement with someone who’s checking you out is also problematic. So potentially self-checkout would reduce the amount of contact you would have with the person,” he advised.

The CDC also recommends opting for curbside pickup and if shoppers need to go inside to try for off-hours when less people would be shopping and to only touch what you plan to purchase, as well as using touchless payments when possible.

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