Aldi has unveiled a COVID-19 vaccination plan that it said is aimed at “removing obstacles” so employees can get a shot.
Batavia, Ill.-based Aldi Tuesday that it’s working with state, local and health care officials to reduce exposure to coronavirus and explore ways to enhance vaccine accessibility. Plans call for the company to deploy on-site vaccination clinics at its warehouse and office locations to ensure its employees have easy access to the vaccine.
In addition, the deep discount grocer is offering all hourly workers time off and pay compensation to get a shot. The company said it will cover costs for vaccine administration and provide wage-earning associates with two hours of pay for each dose they receive — up to four hours in total — and salaried employees with scheduling flexibility.
“Since the onset of the pandemic, our entire Aldi team has worked to keep stores safe and stocked and serve communities without interruption,” Aldi U.S. CEO Jason Hart said in a statement. “Providing accommodations so employees can receive this critical vaccine is one more way we can support them and eliminate the need to choose between earning their wages and protecting their well-being.”
Aldi noted that it has enacted a range of safety measures to reduce employee and customer exposure to COVID-19.
The chain, with more than 2,000 stores in 37 states, said both workers and shoppers required to wear “properly fitting” face coverings, and customers must maintain social distancing of six feet during their shopping trip. Signs, floor decals for one-way aisles and protective barriers have been installed throughout our stores and at checkout to aid distancing. Deeper cleanings are conducted throughout stores — with an extra focus on high-touch areas and carts — while self-serve cart wipe stations have been installed for shoppers to sanitize carts before shopping. Hand sanitizing stations also are available for customers and employees.
Frontline grocery workers remain at high risk for coronavirus, which in the United States has infected more than 24 million Americans and killed over 399,000 people. According to the United Food and Commercial Workers International union, 124 grocery workers among its membership have died from COVID-19 and 25,760 have been infected or exposed to the virus.
Food and agricultural workers, including grocery store associates, are slated to be inoculated in Phase 1B of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommended allocation schedule for COVID-19 vaccines. States and municipalities have been adapting the CDC’s guidelines in vaccinating their own populations.
Last Friday, President-elect Joe Biden cited grocery workers as among the priority population groups for COVID-19 immunizations, which he said are being administered too slowly and aren’t always reaching those most vulnerable to the virus.
“We’ll fix the problem by encouraging states to allow more people to get vaccinated beyond health care workers and move through these groups as quickly as states think they can. That includes anyone 65 and older — a population that has accounted for 80% of the deaths to date,” Biden said in a speech detailing his national COVID-19 vaccination plan. “We must also continue vaccinating frontline essential workers like educators, first responders and grocery store workers. It won’t mean that everyone in these groups will get vaccinated immediately, as supply is not where it needs to be. But it will mean that as vaccines become available, they will reach more people who need them.”
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