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Grocers meet COVID-19 guidelines

Essential service makes adjustments

Photo by Kim Fundingsland/MDN A familiar sight during the coronavirus pandemic has been plexiglass and face masks, both utilized extensively at various locations as a precaution against COVID-19.

Pandemic or not, people need a reliable food supply. That means making trips to the supermarket and interacting with numerous other people. Grocers reacted quickly to insure as safe a shopping environment as possible.

Protective plexiglass shields were erected as a precaution against the unwanted spread of coronavirus between workers and customers. Employees responded by wearing face masks. Sanitizing of shopping carts, credit card readers, and other frequently touched surfaces became a priority. Grocery customers were asked to wear protective masks for the safety of themselves and others.

“We want customers and employees to wear masks and I don’t see anything in the foreseeable future to change that,” said Justin Crocker, store director, Cash Wise Foods. “What we are looking at is the new norm for a while.”

During the early days of the pandemic many retailers experienced a furious run on many goods. Remember the toilet paper shortage?

Supermarkets were especially hard hit as people stocked up on many products, pasta and canned foods among them. Cleaning products were in great demand. Shelves for many items were often bare or, when stocked, quickly reduced by customers.

“It was challenging,” said Crocker. “Some items were not available. Manufacturers stopped production of certain things. Plants were shut down and it affected groceries in an impactful way.”

Though it all though, grocers remained open and served the public as much as possible during a nationwide demand for thousands and thousands of products.

“The whole thing was a series of big challenges. Staffing became an issue with close contacts for a little while which didn’t help us,” recalled Crocker. “Product procurement got really wild for a while.”

Today it is very much business as usual at supermarkets with ample supplies of food and other items. As more and more people become vaccinated against coronovirus and the total number of people infected with the disease continues to shrink, many are wondering what the lasting impact of the pandemic will be. Some changes, such as the plexiglass barriers, might remain.

“All that goes beyond what we are thinking for now,” said Crocker. “We’ll have more talk, more discussion as time goes on.”

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