Grocery stores taking measures to protect customers, employees

Grocery stores are taking extra precautions when it comes to protecting their employees and their customers.

Posted: Apr 1, 2020 11:40 PM
Updated: Apr 2, 2020 11:19 AM

Some of the most essential businesses still in operation are grocery stores, which can sometimes be packed full of people in tight spaces -- but some grocery stores are taking extra steps to protect their customers and employees.

"Food safety, associate and customer safety has certainly been top of mind and certainly that has been amplified even more," said Todd Bullen, vice president of retail operations for the Western Division at Hannaford Supermarkets. "Social distancing and really trying to keep that 6-feet between our associates as they work and also the associates and customers as customers shop our store."

All Hannaford stores are strongly encouraging social distancing in a few ways, including signage prompts for customers and associates to maintain a 6-foot distancing rule, spacing decals at check out and pharmacy, plexiglas protection barriers installed between cashiers and customers, and product delivery modifications to ensure social distancing between associates and vendors.

"Our cashiers certainly appreciate that, the customers certainly appreciate that," Bullen said.

Other stores are taking similar precautions.

Tops has enhanced their safety measures at all stores. Those safety measures include installing Plexiglas shields on as many of their front end registers as possible. Where Plexiglas cannot be affixed because of equipment limitations, associates will be provided with protective face shields.

Chanatry's in Utica has set up floor markers where customers would be close together to ensure they are 6-feet apart.

Like other grocery stores, Hannaford is conducts rigorous cleaning procedures throughout its stores. They are offering sanitizing wipes at the door, and regularly sanitizing that are frequently handled.

"We are just taking steps to sanitizing touch points like handles on coolers, the belts that the groceries go down, the pin pads, we're certainly ensuring that we are taking that to an even higher level to protect our associates and customers as they're in the store," Bullen said.

Several grocery stores have dedicated specific store hours for seniors and immunocompromised shoppers to help protect those most at risk.

Bullen says there are things you can do to help with social distancing.

"When you come shopping and when it's possible, if you could have one member of the family shop at a time when that's possible, that just eliminates extra people being in the area and increases social distancing which is very helpful," Bullen said. "Also if possible, avoid those busier times at the store."

Bullen says when the employees are following CDC guidelines when it comes to handling the food that isn't prepackaged.

"We have rigorous food standards for all of the food and we are following CDC guidelines when it comes to everything we're doing," Bullen said. "You will see the things that we're packaging and selling, all of those are meeting those standards, we are ensuing the highest food safety standards in anything that we have."

Grocery stores are doing what they can to protect customers when they're shopping, but it's important to remember to protect yourself when you get home.

The CDC says the virus can remain airborne for two to three hours, it can remain on cardboard for 24 hours, and plastic and stainless steel for two to three days.

Experts with the CDC say when you bring your groceries inside, wipe everything down with a disinfectant before putting them away.

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