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Stores change practices to limit coronavirus spread

By CHRISTIE

MASTRIC

Journal Staff Writer

MARQUETTE — Stores are adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic in a number of ways.

Meijer announced it is taking additional steps to make stores safe for shoppers and team members. The company, in addition to communicating to customers about social distancing practices, is asking them to limit the number of shoppers who come to a Meijer store during each trip.

Meijer is implementing ways to monitor the number of customers in its stores, which includes managing the number of people in the store.

The company will conduct daily health screenings and temperature checks of team members as they arrive at the store. It has completed installation of proactive plexiglass shields at all check lanes and pharmacies in its 248 supercenters and stores.

Other steps taken involve adding signage and broadcasting announcements inside the store to educate customers about proper social distancing. The weekly sales will be suspended beginning Sunday to decrease the number of customers in the store.

Meijer already has taken steps to address the pandemic, including suspending the use of reusable bags unless they are being used for the retailer’s Shop & Scan program, discontinuing accepting beverage containers for return, temporarily removing Sandy the Pony from the front end of its stores, and placing decals on the floor 6 feet apart where customers might congregate.

Customers are suggested to use the length of their shopping carts to gauge the proper distance from others where there are no floor decals. Reduced shopping hours have been implemented to support deeper cleaning overnight and better restocking efficiency. Meijer has put into place dedicated shopping hours for senior citizens, customers with chronic health conditions and essential service workers.

The “express pay” option through the Meijer pharmacy enhanced text messaging program, which provides a contactless experience when picking up most prescriptions, is encouraged.

Another major retailer, Walmart, also has announced changes to its shopping process to encourage social distancing.

The retailer is limiting the number of customers who can be in a store at once. Stores now will allow no more than five customers for each 1,000 square feet at a time, which it said is roughly 20% of its capacity.

Associates will mark a queue at a single-entry door, which in most cases is at the grocery entrance, and direct customers there where they will be admitted one by one and counted. Associates also will remind them of social distancing practices.

Stores will have one-way movement through aisles in a number of stores using floor markers and direction from associates. The retailer also will continue to put signage inside its stores to remind customers to socially distance themselves, especially in lines.

In recent weeks, Walmart has expanded its paid leave policies, closed stores overnight for cleaning and restocking, installed sneeze guards and social distance markers in stores, and started to make gloves and masks available to associates who want them.

Target announced it too is limiting the number of people in its stores, and if metering is needed, a team member will help guests into a designated waiting area outside with social distancing markers. Others will guide guests inside the store and keep things moving quickly. Target also will begin providing all team members with disposable face masks and gloves at the beginning of every shift.

The Marquette Food Co-op said on its website at marquettefood.coop that the store has added a special shopping time from 9 to 10 a.m. Wednesdays for at-risk populations, which include senior citizens, pregnant women or those with compromised immune systems.

“While we have online shopping and curbside grocery pick-up to help people minimize their time out of their home, we understand that there still might be a need for some people to come into the store for shopping,” said Sarah Monte, outreach director, on the website.

Monte urged people to check the co-op’s social media and website regularly for updates on hours of operation and other news.

Econofoods has implemented precautions, including frequent cleaning of shopping carts, check stands, seating areas, restrooms and other commonly used items and areas. Hand sanitizer will be provided at all check stands for team members.

Self-services at Econofoods where applicable, such as salad bars and open deli hot cases, have been suspended, according to its website at tadychseconofoods.com, although these items still are available and will be packaged or served by the particular department.

On its Facebook page, Super One Foods suggested people plan their shopping trips to be quick and efficient, and limit their visits to one shopper per family when possible. All donuts usually found in the self-serve cases now are available pre-packaged.

Stores and their liquor sections are closing at 9 p.m. until further notice to allow employees to focus on cleaning and replenishing shelves.

The company asks shoppers to plan their trips for anytime between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. to allow people who are at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 to be at the stores with fewer people.

The Marquette Township and Negaunee stores open at 6 a.m.

Christie Mastric can be reached at cbleck@miningjournal.net.

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