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This Is How the Grocery Shopping Experience May Change Soon

More shoppers are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

It's been a year since shopping for groceries transformed from a mundane task to a complicated one. As COVID-19 vaccine distribution efforts ramp up at many of the supermarkets in your own neck of the woods, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released new guidelines for how to protect yourself and others.

"Based on what we know about COVID-19 vaccines, people who have been fully vaccinated can start to do some things that they had stopped doing because of the pandemic," the CDC says.

Here's everything you need to know about grocery shopping amid the vaccine rollout, including the latest safety guidelines from the CDC. For more on how to keep yourself safe against the new coronavirus, here is The One Vitamin Doctors Are Urging Everyone to Take Right Now.

Some rules that are the same:

You still have to social distance.

social distancing for Coronavirus covid-19 in tesco supermarket

Even if you're fully vaccinated, the CDC still recommends staying 6 feet away from others when out in public. Continue to avoid overcrowding while shopping, and use the stickers on the floor in check-out lines to maintain a safe distance.

You still have to wash your hands and use hand sanitizer.

Asian shopper disinfecting hands with sanitizer in supermarket during shopping for groceries. Public shopping cart is high risk virus and bacteria contact point.

As we already know, you don't need to wash store-bought food. However, using hand sanitizer and washing your hands is still necessary. To help you navigate the aisles, we put together a handy list of the germiest areas of the grocery store.

You still have to wear a mask…

Woman in a disposable face mask is checking a shopping list on a smartphone in a supermarket

Most mask mandates remain in effect, and you should still wear a mask in public even if you're fully vaccinated, according to the CDC. It's impossible to know who else around you is fully vaccinated, but wearing a mask as you shop helps keep everyone safe.

Related: This Grocery Store Keeps Facing Backlash For Its COVID-19 Policies

And some rules that are different:

…Unless you shop at one of these chains.

Focused woman taking off face mask while choosing fruits in grocery store.

Texas and Mississippi recently lifted their state mask mandates, putting the decision of whether or not to require masks in the hands of businesses. As of March 10, a few grocery stores in the Lonestar State are not requiring customers to wear a mask: H-E-B, Central Market, and Albertsons. At the same time, all three chains are encouraging customers to continue to wear one.

The CDC recently published new research showing that mask mandates slow the spread of the virus. "We have seen this movie before: When prevention measures like mask mandates are rolled back, cases go up," CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said during a March 5 news briefing at the White House.

It may not feel as scary.

Woman coughing in her elbow in grocery store.

Fully vaccinated people from up to two households can gather indoors without wearing a mask. However, you should first take into account whether anyone is at risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

Both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are 95% effective at preventing symptomatic infection, according to Yale Medicine. So if you've been fully vaccinated, a trip to the grocery store may feel significantly less daunting.

Related: 10 Grocery Store Safety Tips From a Health Expert

You may be able to shop and get a vaccine on the same trip!

grocery story line

In November, 11 grocery stores partnered with the federal government to distribute the COVID-19 vaccines to hundreds of thousands of Americans. Six chains were already offering vaccines by January, and distribution efforts continue to expand in March. Walmart is even rolling out drive-thru vaccinations at some of its locations in 18 states.

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Amanda McDonald
Amanda has a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University and a bachelor's degree in digital journalism from Loyola University Chicago. Read more about Amanda