This week The Fresh Market plans to start requiring all customers to wear face coverings when shopping in its stores as a stronger safeguard against novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
Greensboro, N.C.-based The Fresh Market said Sunday that the new policy, which goes into effect on April 14, is being instituted as a safety precaution and based on guidance from health authorities.
Although some state and city ordinances already have mandated that shoppers wear face coverings, The Fresh Market noted that it’s taking an extra step to bolster safety for both customers and employees across its 159 stores in 22 states. The natural and organic grocery, too, had modified its policy to require all workers to wear a face mask or cloth face covering in stores following updated Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance recommending people wear cloth face coverings in public settings.
“To help keep our communities safe, wearing face coverings is a necessary measure in public settings where physical separation is difficult,” James Ball, director of food safety and quality assurance at The Fresh Market, said in a statement. “There is growing evidence that more individuals than previously thought may be carriers of coronavirus but do not show symptoms of the illness. Wearing a face covering may reduce the spread of the virus by asymptomatic individuals.”
The Fresh Market said it sent an email on Saturday to notify shoppers about the new face covering policy, as well as posted notifications on social media and signs outside stores. The signage, too, reminds customers to practice social distancing by staying two carts — about six feet — apart when shopping.
Store associates also will be on hand to answer customers’ questions, The Fresh Market said. For consumers, the CDC has provided a link to instructions on how to make a cloth face covering.
“Since it is impossible to know who may be asymptomatic, it is prudent for everyone to wear a covering,” Ball added. “The goal is to reduce the virus transmission to keep everyone as safe as possible.”
The Fresh Market said the CDC hasn’t changed its guidelines on wearing gloves other than as required for food preparation, since COVID-19 is spread through droplets and gloves wouldn’t mitigate the transmission of this disease. Workers are following the recommended handwashing guidance and washing their hands frequently, which can cause irritation; as a result, front-end staff are permitted to wear gloves as an additional layer of protection in between handwashing and have been instructed on how to properly wear and clean them, the retailer noted.
Other coronavirus safety measures being taken by The Fresh Market include physical distancing guidance throughout stores, reserved hours for vulnerable shoppers, contactless credit card checkout, limits on the number of customers in stores, and enhanced cleaning and disinfection practices.
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