As each day and week passes, government officials are heightening safety measures to fight the spread of COVID-19. Many states are now under even stronger mandates to stay home. Everyone is urged to only go out for necessities, like groceries and medicine. As grocery stores, pharmacies and hospitals continue to combat coronavirus with stronger safety practices, people should take extra steps to protect themselves and essential workers who can’t stay home.
Grocery store associates and other essential workers are especially exposed to germs.
Grocery stores are working hard to protect their associates and customers.
We talked to Lisa, a Customer Service Manager at a Jacksonville, Florida grocery store. Here is what she has to say about avoiding COVID-19:
What steps are you taking to protect your staff?
“Employees are all allowed to use gloves and masks, but they must bring them in on their own. I do think they help to provide a sense of safety, but the most useful thing we have been providing our employees is hand sanitizer, since we can’t leave our stations after every transaction to wash our hands.”
How do you make sure produce is adequately cleaned?
“We use liquid fruit and vegetable wash concentrate, mixed with water.” This product kills 99.9% of common bacteria like Ecoli and Salmonella. Produce handlers are urged to wash their hands frequently to reduce the chance of contamination of viruses like COVID-19. Customers are also encouraged to use sanitizer and avoid touching germy surfaces.
Have you imposed strict hand washing rules on your team members?
“We are holding regular meetings to make sure our staff members are following best practices for using sanitizer and washing their hands as often as they can,” she says.
How are you keeping track of employee hand washing?
“We are constantly having meetings on our standards and procedures. It has always been our store policy that if you touch your hair or your face, you need to wash your hands.”
“I would say so,” says Lisa. Setting a goal to have the stamp no longer visible by the end of each person’s shift could encourage more vigorous washing after restroom breaks and lunch breaks.
How might you improve the safety of your essential workers, and help customers feel safe in your store?
“We have already been taking steps to help ensure safety for everyone. We are only using every other register to create space, and we are marking the floor every six feet to help practice the social distancing guidelines.”
What can customers do to ensure they are safe before entering the store, and while shopping?
“We provide cart sanitizing wipes that can also be used on hands. I would advise customers to wipe down their hands and their cart before they start their shopping experience.”
What are the best ways shoppers can combat the spread of the virus?
Wipe your shopping cart down as soon as you get it. Sanitizing wipes and gels are in high demand, so if your store does not have these readily available to wipe your cart, use your sleeves to hold the cart handle.
Checkout counters, key pads and card readers are at the top of the list of germy surfaces. If you can avoid touching these, do it. You can sign checks or take-out bills using your own signature stamp, to avoid using shared pens.
As soon as you get home, take off your shoes and leave them at the door.
Wash your hands and face.
Wipe down cans and boxes with a sanitizing wipe.
Wash off produce and dry it with a clean paper towel.
Even the smallest safety measures to fight coronavirus go a long way, if everyone is practicing them. New research shows that 6.4% of new infections are spread from people who are not showing symptoms. Even if you feel well, be sure you “do the five.”
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