Lawrence Gostin, a public health expert at Georgetown University, said handling and eating food has not been a major route for the spread of COVID-19. But food sampling can lead to people congregating together, and that increases the risk of transmission. He also pointed to concerns about food sampling that go beyond the coronavirus: “Multiple hands grabbing samples can lead to the spread of germs, while contaminated gloves can also disperse unwanted bacteria.”
As for makeup testing, Gostin said it’s “much safer and wiser” to use samples that are fully packaged. And with letting kids play with toys, frequent sanitizing of objects is recommended to contain viruses like influenza, which unlike COVID-19 can be easily spread through touching contaminated surfaces.
Toy retailer Camp, which centered its shopping experience around children playing with toys, now has individually wrapped craft kits in the store instead of letting kids dig around for art supplies, says Tiffany Markofsky, the company’s marketing director. For testing out toys, it’s sticking to items that can be easily cleaned, like remote control toy cars instead of dolls with faux hair.
Marianne Szymanski, president of Toy Tips Inc., a toy guide, believes toy testing overall will be “limited” because of the lingering fears about germs due to the pandemic.
Some retailers are doing away with sampling altogether. For instance, West Hollywood, California-based beauty company Blushington isn’t reopening its six stores and is instead moving more toward virtual makeup sessions and offering services at shoppers’ home, says CEO Natasha Cornstein. She thinks shoppers believe they have better control of their environment and hygiene in their own home.