The Kroger Co. and regional grocer Giant Eagle are putting protective barriers at checkout and service counters to help prevent the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
Cincinnati-based Kroger said yesterday that it has begun installing plexiglass partitions at many cash registers to foster physical distancing.
Local, state and federal health and emergency authorities are recommending — and, in some cases, mandating — that consumers and businesses practice “social distancing” by avoiding gathering in large groups and keeping a distance of several feet between people while shopping or working.
“Many of our stores are beginning the installation process this week, and we anticipate every check lane having a partition — including pharmacy counters and Starbucks registers — within the next several weeks,” a Kroger spokesperson said. “In addition, we are installing educational floor decals to promote physical distancing at check lanes and other counters.”
Kroger also expanding daily sanitation practices in stores, including more frequent cleaning of commonly used areas such as cashier stations, self-checkouts, credit card terminals, foodservice counters and shelves. In addition, the company said it has informed store associates that they are permitted to wear protective masks and gloves.
“There is a national shortage of personal protective equipment like this, and we fully support America’s health care workers having first priority to obtain the equipment they need,” the spokesperson said. “We are advocating to government officials at all levels for help securing a priority place in line for all grocery workers — after health care workers — to have access to protective masks and gloves.”
Other measures taken by Kroger include modified store operating hours to give associates more time to rest, clean and replenish inventory, and emergency leave guidelines allowing paid time off for associates diagnosed with COVID-19, placed under mandatory quarantine and under self-isolation, as verified by an accredited health care professional.
“We believe all these steps will help to ensure the safety of our associates and help our communities to ‘flatten the curve,’ while at the same time meeting our obligation to be there for our customers,” the Kroger spokesperson added.
Pittsburgh-based Giant Eagle, meanwhile, is taking several steps to promote social distancing within its stores, including a checkout.
The retailer is installing plexiglass dividers at checkout and customer service areas in its Giant Eagle and Market District supermarkets, pharmacies and GetGo convenience store/fuel locations. Floor indicators and signage also are being placed at checkout lanes to visually indicate appropriate distance between shoppers. Customers, too, are being asked to not bring reusable shopping bags to stores.
Pieces of plexiglass will be affixed to each register and pharmacy and customer service counters to act as a divider between customers and the associates processing their transactions, Giant Eagle said in announcing the measure Tuesday. The company added that it’s “working around the clock” to have protective barriers up at the vast majority of Giant Eagle and GetGo stores by the end of the week.
Similarly, Giant Eagle said it’s temporarily suspending reusable bag use in its stores “out of an abundance of caution” as part of its COVID-19 safety efforts. All purchases in Giant Eagle locations will be bagged in single-use plastic bags or paper bags, with both available free. The retailer also is temporarily pausing its fuelperks+ “one perk per reusable bag used” promotion to discourage reusable bag use.
“These are just a few examples of the steps we are taking to safeguard the health and wellbeing of both our team members and guests,” Giant Eagle spokesman Dan Donovan stated. “We are not wavering in our commitment to providing an unparalleled guest service or a future free of single-use plastics, but rather are asking our guests to take this opportunity to help us promote the safest shopping experience possible.”
Overall, Giant Eagle operates more than 470 food and convenience stores, including over 200 supermarkets, across western Pennsylvania, north central Ohio, northern West Virginia, Maryland and Indiana.
Besides Kroger and Giant Eagle, grocery retailers that have announced plans to install plexiglass barriers at checkout and other store areas include Walmart, Albertsons, Hy-Vee, H-E-B, Meijer, Lidl US and Schnuck Markets, among others.