Grocery stores like ShopRite have taken drastic measures to help and protect their customers and workers from the coronavirus pandemic — from $2 pay raises to installing plexiglass sneeze guards, and now allowing workers to wear protective masks and gloves.
Grocery stores have mentioned Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines in notices on whether they would allow workers to wear masks. The CDC has told the public not to buy masks as medical workers worldwide face a massive shortage. The agency also says the fitted N95 masks require training to be worn properly.
ShopRite posted a notice inside at least one of its stores Thursday, which was obtained by The Post, noting that employees would be allowed to wear masks.
“We know some of you have asked about facemasks (sic),” the notice reads. “The Centers for Disease Control does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory illness, including COVID-19. … In alignment with the guidance provided by the CDC, we do not recommend that you wear a facemask.”
The notice continues, “Despite this, if you would be more comfortable wearing a face mask while at work, you are permitted to do so.”
One vendor who frequently works in ShopRite and chose to remain anonymous, said he continues to wear work gloves he bought at Home Depot.
“Nobody’s going to tell me that I can’t wear gloves,” he said. “I regularly have to interact with both other employees and customers all day long. For me to not be able to wear masks or gloves is not good.”
Daniel Emmer, spokesperson for ShopRite, stressed that the CDC recommends best practices are proper hand hygiene, refraining from touching your face, social distancing and respiratory etiquette.
“We believe masks should be reserved and conserved at this time for the medical community,” he continued. “The safety and well-being of our associates and customers are always our highest priority, and we are taking the necessary steps to keep our stores a safe place to work and shop.
Emmer added that ShopRite is enforcing proper food-handling protocols and is stressing social distancing protocols with special signs and in-store messaging.
“Many of our stores are installing plexiglass shields on customer service counters, pharmacy counters and cash registers. Many are also operating checkout lanes that are designated for our senior and high-risk customers,” Emmer added.
The company announced on its website it is providing a $2 hazard pay bump to its employees throughout the crisis.
STOP & SHOP
The powerful United Food and Commercial Workers International Union said in a press release that store employees represented by the union would get a 10 percent increase in pay during the coronavirus outbreak. Workers will also receive two additional weeks of paid leave if they become sick.
The company also said on its website that it is donating $1 million to local food banks during the pandemic.
The grocer also announced a slew of changes, including increased sanitation efforts, suspension of food sampling, limits on purchases and special shopping hours for the elderly.
“We are working to ensure our associates have items like disinfecting wipes, gloves and hand sanitizers to use at work to help keep themselves and customers healthy,” the company wrote. “In addition, associates are conducting regular hand washing every 20-30 minutes.”
An anonymous source told The Atlantic that Trader Joe’s employees are not allowed to wear gloves at the register.
“They don’t want to alter the appearance of normalcy,” the worker told The Atlantic.
However, a representative for the company told The Post that employees are allowed to wear gloves and masks.
On its website, the company announced that several of its stores in New York and New Jersey have been closed for cleaning after workers have tested positive for the illness.
The company has taken numerous initiatives to help stop the spread of the disease, including designated store hours for the elderly, halting food sampling and giving workers additional sick leave.
Whole Foods says on its website that the company has adjusted its hours, is providing a $2 pay bump and unlimited call outs for sick workers, and all team members placed into quarantine or diagnosed with COVID-19 will receive up to an additional two weeks of paid time off, as announced by its parent company, Amazon.
“While it is not currently recommended by the CDC, and the guidance is to preserve these resources for the medical community and those caring for the ill, any team member who wishes to wear a mask while working may do so,” the website reads.
However, the company announced on its website that its initiatives include an “enhanced” disability pay policy for those impacted by COVID-19, creating a job-protected voluntary leave program, adding additional hand sanitizer stations and is installing plexiglass shields at pharmacies and front-end registers.
A representative for the massive grocery chain Publix told The Post it is not allowing its employees to wear masks and gloves.
“They are in very high demand, especially for those working in the health care industry. The FDA and CDC do not recommend face masks for those working in the food industry,” said Maria Brous. “If one is sick, then he/she should stay home. Regarding gloves, these need to be used in areas based on food-handling positions or where PPE is required. Both agencies recommend continued focus on good hand hygiene, including proper hand washing and use of hand sanitizer.”
The company has initiated a senior shopping period, added plexiglass sneeze guards, implemented a heightened disinfection program focusing on high-touch surfaces and also suspended food demonstrations.
The company has also donated $1 million to Feeding America food banks.
When a Post reporter visited a Costco location in Rockland County, workers were seen wearing masks and standing on pallets directing shoppers entering the store to stand 6 feet apart, freshly wiping down shopping carts.
However, BuzzFeed reported that Costco employees say the retail giant is not being transparent about the precautions it is taking after workers at its warehouses have tested positive for the illness.
A spokesperson for the massive Albertsons Companies conglomerate — which owns several grocery store chains nationwide — says “any employee or vendor at any time can wear masks and gloves at any of our stores.”
The company has also taken additional measures including installing plexiglass shields at check-out stands and pharmacy counters and scheduling designated shopping windows for at-risk customers, she said.
Target told KQED that workers can wear their own masks and gloves — but a source told the outlet that her father wasn’t allowed to wear preventative equipment.
The company uniquely is setting aside time for its employees to shop at its stores before opening.
“This is a recognition of our team’s incredible dedication, and our commitment to help all families,” said Arthur Valdez, chief supply chain and logistics officer, in a memo.
The company also announced a slew of other changes, including having door greeters clean carts, special hours for the elderly to shop and waiving its absenteeism policy and covering quarantine and confirmed illness pay.
H-E-B AND CENTRAL MARKET
Executives at the company, which was praised for its disaster relief and readiness during Hurricane Harvey, discussed how it has prepared for coronavirus since January in an article with Texas Monthly.
The popular West Coast chain said on its website that it has metered entrance into its stores to allow for social distancing, temporarily discontinued the use of bulk barrels and bins requiring the use of scoops or tongs for unwrapped and ready-to-eat products.
It is also enforcing restrictions on returns of products, including toilet paper. The company also said on its Facebook that it is adjusting its hours to provide a window for the elderly.