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Better Ask Barry: Are grocery store employees safe?

grocery shopping

One month into the coronavirus lockdown, an increasing number of grocery workers are being infected with Covid 19. Now, there's a nationwide call for action.

Stores have been limiting the number of shoppers who can be inside. There are also new distancing guidelines, one-way food aisles, and employees will no longer handle your reusable bags.

You may also encounter a store greeter is reminding you to wear a mask.

This comes after the United Food and Commercial Workers international union (UFCW) announced a shop smart initiative to stop the spread of Covid 19. 

"We all have to create our new normal,” said Raley's Chelsea Minor, “so any message we can get out there about how to shop smart and safely health-wise is really important when we have to be united in this together."

After 30 deaths, the UFCW is now asking all customers to wear masks, maintain social distancing in stores, and not hoard products. The union says hoarding is especially troubling, and in some rare instances it has led to violence.

“I really think people should have more respect for people on the front lines," said Minor.

Customers Do Hinman and her husband get up early and wear homemade masks when they go shopping. They are shocked by the number of used gloves dropped in parking lots.

"Why would you litter just because we are going through this? Why make it worse?” she asked.

Union leaders ask people to throw away used gloves and masks to prevent employees from being further exposed.

And if you have a mask, wear it. Leaving your mask in the car doesn't do any good.

"I will just go back to my truck and get my mask and come in," said one shopper.

The union is also asking people to make fewer trips to limit exposure for all.

“Literally, taking the bag and giving it to people, putting numbers -- with how much interaction is happening during the checkout, it's really important, especially in a place where people are not doing self-checkout, to have people wearing masks," said one shopper.

At this point, individual grocery chains have their own rules for whether masks are required. Raley's makes employees wear them-but it's not required of customers...yet.

"Raleys put in over a dozen safety measures in terms of operations and we continue to evaluate and change things."

Going forward, expect shortened store hours, more plexiglass barriers at checkout stands, and clerks washing their hands and sanitizing registers every 30 minutes.

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Barry Brown

Barry Brown is an anchor and reporter at KION News Channel 5/46.


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