Southeastern Grocers (SEG) has unveiled a new range of initiatives to bolster safety against novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and support its workforce, including an Easter Day closure.
SEG said all of its stores under the Winn-Dixie, Bi-Lo, Harveys Supermarket and Fresco y Más will be closed for business on Easter Sunday, April 12, to provide associates a day of rest.
“Southeastern Grocers is a people-first company, and our associates and customers are at the heart of our business,” President and CEO Anthony Hucker said in a statement. “I am extremely proud of our associates who are going above and beyond to serve our customers. The decision to close on Easter Sunday was made to allow our heroic associates a day to rest and find comfort with their families.”
Elevated safety standards aim to promote social distancing and prevent overcrowding, according to SEG. Starting this week, the Jacksonville, Fla.-based grocer plans to limit the number of customers shopping in select stores. Customers, too, are being asked to maintain a two-cart-length distance between themselves and employees while shopping and at checkout by using floor markers.
Plexiglass partitions have been installed at all registers, customer service desks, pharmacies and liquor store counters, and SEG is encouraging shoppers to use touch-free payment options at its more than 500 stores.
In support of employees, SEG said it’s providing “continuous appreciation” for frontline workers via weekly bonuses, as well as expediting first-quarter store bonuses and offering meals for associates. The company also aims to hire more than 5,000 temporary workers who have experienced restricted hours or job loss due to COVID-19.
Also, beginning this week, all SEG supermarkets will conduct temperature checks for associates when they report to work to ensure a safer atmosphere for associates and customers, SEG noted. Associates are permitted to wear masks and gloves in all stores, and the company said it will provide protective items where supplies are available.
Other efforts by SEG in response to the coronavirus pandemic include modified store and pharmacy hours, designated shopping time for high-risk customers, and extended shopping hours for first responders and health care professionals.
Except for Easter Sunday, all Bi-Lo, Fresco y Más, Harveys and Winn-Dixie stores will close nightly at 8 p.m. to give associates extra time to restock shelves and perform a deeper and broader cleaning process, according to the company. The first open hour of each store will be only for high-risk customers, while health workers and first responders will get extended shopping hours on Mondays and Tuesdays from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m.
“We are grateful for the kindness many of our customers have shown our associates,” Hucker added. “Now more than ever, we need to promote kindness to all of those who are on the front line striving to make our communities safer and stronger. Together, we will support our neighbor, and continue to provide the safest possible shopping environment for our customers.”
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