To help prevent the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19), hard discount grocers Aldi and Lidl are implementing occupancy restrictions in their stores to increase physical distancing between shoppers and employees.
Batavia, Ill.-based Aldi U.S. yesterday began limiting the number of customers inside its stores to about five per 1,000 square feet. Associates will be stationed outside each store to keep track of customers entering and exiting as well as to clean shopping carts.
“We will admit shoppers into the store one at a time. We may enforce a brief delay between customers to allow for adequate space between customers as they enter,” Aldi said in a COVID-19 safety update on its website. “If a line forms outside our store, we kindly ask our customers to stand at least six feet away from the person in front of them and maintain that safe distance throughout their entire shopping experience,” the company noted. “Our team members will help remind shoppers of this as well.”
Customers, too, are being asked to limit shopping trips to one person per family, except for those who must shop with children and vulnerable shoppers who need assistance. Medical professionals who present identification will be moved to the front of any lines that form outside stores.
In addition, Aldi is rolling out one-way aisles on a temporary basis to manage traffic flow and uphold social distancing between customers and associates. In-store signage will guide shoppers through the store.
This week, Aldi also started taking the temperatures of store and warehouse employees and asking them basic health screening questions before reporting to work. Workers with a fever of 100 degrees or higher will be sent home, and they must be free of all symptoms for at least 72 hours before coming back to work, the company said.
Aldi operates more than 1,900 U.S. stores in 36 states. “The entire Aldi team is working around the clock to keep our stores clean and stocked,” the retailer stated. “We are installing protective barriers at checkout and making gloves and masks available to associates who would like them. We have added social distancing signage across all stores and increased the frequency of cart cleaning.”
Meanwhile, Arlington, Va.-based Lidl US said Friday that it plans to limit the number of customers in stores at one time starting on April 11.
The temporary occupancy restriction will cap the shopper count in stores to approximately five per 1,000 square feet, unless where legally required, according to Lidl. A designated associate will be situated at the store entrance to monitor the number of customers, as well as to disinfect carts and direct shoppers to line up once that limit has been reached.
“This measure encourages social distancing from the moment customers arrive to our stores and supplements the other measures we take in this regard,” Lidl said in a coronavirus update on its website.
Those efforts include new in-store signage at all Lidl stores to promote social distancing. The retailer also has deployed floor markers to help customers maintain a proper distance, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently recommends is six feet.
“These social distancing messages, together with other recommended behavioral practices, are reiterated throughout the day in our in-store announcements and on large monitors in our employee breakrooms,” according to Lidl.
Lidl also is installing protective shields in checkout lanes at all stores and urging customers to use of contactless payment for their transactions. The company, too, is working to make both face masks and gloves to all store personnel. Five pairs of disposable protective gloves are currently available to each store associate for each shift, Lidl said.
“Although the CDC does not require our team to use masks and gloves, Lidl is committed to supplying this equipment to our teams during this health emergency,” the retailer noted. “We are actively sourcing protective masks for use by our teams on each shift. Protective masks will be available at all stores for all Lidl employees within the next 10 days.”
Overall, Lidl operates almost 100 stores in Virginia, the Carolinas, Georgia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York.
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