With public health officials advising Mainers to stay home as much as possible to slow transmission of the novel coronavirus, many people are doing their best not to go out in public. Lots of things can be taken care of by phone, video-chat or by ordering online. There are a few needs, however, that we must interact with local businesses for; none, perhaps, as pressing as groceries.

The Republican Journal surveyed several Waldo County grocery retailers that are accommodating customers who want to stay out of the store; one even offers home delivery to certain towns. Here is what we found.

Belfast Co-op

The downtown Belfast Co-op allows customers to shop online using the "Shop for Me" service on its website. Shoppers can select their items, select a curbside pickup time between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. and pay online. Someone from the store will call to confirm the pickup time, let the customer know about any substitutions and finalize the payment, according to Marketing Manager Jamie Cermak.

They can also pay when they pick up their order with a check, cash or via electronic benefits card; however, customers paying with an EBT card must come into the store, or send someone else in with their card, said IT and E-Commerce Manager Heather Hay, because the store has security agreements that prohibit it from asking for an EBT user's personal identification number.

Customers park in one of several specially marked parking spaces and call the store when they arrive. Cermak said the Co-op has "lots" of customers who use the Shop for Me service, which is open to Co-op members and non-members alike. He added that while the Co-op encourages shoppers to enter their grocery order online, it is possible to place an order over the phone at 338-2532.

Hannaford Brothers Supermarkets

On its website, Hannaford has information about its online ordering and curbside pickup service, Hannaford To Go, which is offered at selected stores, not including Belfast. Like the Co-op's Shop for Me offering, shoppers choose their items on the website (they can specify a store when they sign in), select a pickup time and pay with a credit card. EBT cards can be used when the order is picked up. Customers are notified by email or phone about any substitutions or out-of-stock items. The website notes that phone orders are not accepted.

The nearest store to Belfast that offers Hannaford To Go is Rockland. The Ellsworth and Waterville JFK stores also offer it.

We spoke with Erica Dodge, a Hannaford spokesperson, who said the company is "working on" expanding the service to include Belfast and other locations, and she expected the service would be offered there "in the near term."

She said the Belfast store does offer curbisde pickup for prescriptions. A staff member will take the customer's credit card information and verify the identify of the person for whom the prescription is written. If counseling is needed, it will also be provided on the phone before the prescription is delivered to the customer's car.

Shop 'n' Save

Although it carries Hannaford brands, the Shop 'n' Save in Unity has its own policies regarding customer service. Assistant Manager Lori Cookson said the store offers curbside service Tuesday and Thursday, but not many customers are using it right now. Shoppers email their order to jeedwards@hannaford.com 24 hours ahead of when they would like to pick it up. The store will try to accommodate orders with less advance notice, she said.

Once the order is ready, the store calls the customer to take payment by credit card or EBT and explain any substitutions.

Tozier's Market

Tozier's has stores in Searsport, Bucksport and Brewer, and Searsport Supervisor Kelly Richards said curbside service is available at the Searsport and Bucksport locations. The Brewer store is more like a small convenience store, she said.

Customers can call the Searsport store at 548-6220 or Bucksport at 469-2753, or email toziers@icloud.com with their order. They can prearrange a pickup time, she said, or the store will call when the order is ready. Tozier's takes credit, debit and EBT cards over the phone, or shoppers can pay by cash or check in the parking lot when they pick up their order. Richards said the Searsport store gets five or six customers a day for curbside pickup.

It gets more customers for its free home delivery service (there is a minimum order of $25), which is available Tuesday and Thursday to people in Belfast, Bucksport, Frankfort, the north side of Northport, Prospect, Searsport, Stockton Springs and Swanville. Shoppers should email toziers@icloud.com or call 322-9060 before 11 a.m. on either Tuesday or Thursday. All the same payment methods are available as with curbside, she said. Two staffers make deliveries from noon or 1 p.m. to 4 or 5 p.m., delivering to two to three dozen customers.

Wentworth Family Grocery

Store owner John Wentworth said the local chain's Brooks, Frankfort and Northport locations offer curbside service; the Belfast Qwik Stop does not. Orders are placed by calling the store where the customer wants to pick up groceries Monday, Wednesday or Friday; the phone number for the Brooks store is 722-3177; for Frankfort, 223-5020; for Northport, 338-1897.

The stores take credit, debit and EBT cards over the phone, and will also accept checks or cash at pickup. The number of requests for the service varies widely, he said, but the average is three or four customers each day per store.