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Routine use of gloves for shop employees and customers is not recommended

Published Updated

Gloves are an important supplement to hand hygiene in the healthcare service. However, there is little evidence that the use of gloves by shop employees and customers is effective in preventing transmission.

Gloves are an important supplement to hand hygiene in the healthcare service. However, there is little evidence that the use of gloves by shop employees and customers is effective in preventing transmission.


COVID-19 is mainly transmitted when droplets of virus are transmitted from the respiratory tract of someone who is sick, to people nearby. Droplets can also land on nearby objects. Indirect contact transmission also contributes to the spread of infection if someone touches a contaminated surface then transfers the virus to the mucous membranes of their eyes, nose or mouth.

Although traces of virus can be detected for some time after objects are contaminated, the amount decreases rapidly. The risk of getting a sufficient amount of viruses on the hands to cause illness is greatest immediately after the object is contaminated, and it is likely that the risk will decrease rapidly as the amount of virus decreases.

Cough etiquette and hand hygiene are effective measures

When someone talks, coughs or sneezes, droplets spread out into the air. Good cough etiquette and keeping a distance from other people limit the risk of droplet transmission. Good hand hygiene and not touching the face with unclean hands prevent indirect contact transmission.

Routine use of gloves among shop employees

Regardless of whether or not gloves are worn, the virus can be transmitted via hands. Shop employees who use gloves can still transfer infection from one product to another, or to their own face. Experience shows that personnel with gloves feel protected and perform hand hygiene less often than when they do not wear gloves, and they do not change gloves often. Therefore, they contribute to a greater degree of indirect transmission than if they do not wear gloves.

Shop employees should only use clean disposable gloves when needed, such as when handling contaminated objects or for tasks that soil the hands.

Good hand hygiene, either with soap and water or hand disinfectant gel, is effective against coronaviruses and most other viruses and bacteria that cause disease. We therefore recommend that good hand hygiene routines for employees and that hand hygiene is carried out:

  • after all tasks that cause extra contamination or soil the hands
  • before direct contact with unpackaged foods
  • before eating and after toilet visits and sneezing / coughing into the hands
  • when you arrive at work
  • at the end of a shift

Use of gloves in grocery shopping

A good general rule is to only touch what you intend to buy, especially non-packaged goods such as fruit and vegetables. As a precaution, shops are encouraged to arrange facilities for customers to perform hand hygiene before entering and leaving the shop. However, there is no research to show that this measure reduces transmission in society.

Some shops have introduced gloves as an alternative when there are no facilities for hand hygiene. Given the lack of studies showing the effect of such a measure, the environmental challenge of waste disposal and the risk of using gloves needed for healthcare, this is not recommended. However, where gloves are available, only use them in situations where customers come in direct contact with unpackaged goods, such as fruit and vegetables. One glove per customer should be sufficient. The new gloves must be stored so that customers do not touch the gloves that other customers will use. Care must be taken to put on/remove the glove without touching the outside.

History

11.05.2020
Replaced "droplets spread for 2 metres" with "droplets spread out into the air", as per Norwegian version.

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