Seattle grocers undergo transformations to combat virus

Seattle News

Next time you make a quick trip to the grocery store, don’t be alarmed if things seem a little different than usual.

Safeway and Albertsons are making big changes around the Emerald City to comply with the new stay-at-home order to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Checkout lane Plexiglas, at-risk shopping hours, taped floors for social distancing, and same-day pharmaceutical delivery, to name just a few.

“As we all continue to navigate through this public health crisis together, Safeway and Albertsons is continuing to do everything we can to prioritize the health and safety of our customers, our communities, and our associates, and to ensure our customers have access to the food, medications, and other essential goods they need during the ‘Stay at Home’ time frame,” the grocery chain stated in a press release.

As an added precaution to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, the groceries have installed Plexiglas partitions in the checkout lanes of all Washington stores to provide a protective barrier between customers and cashiers.

Additionally, the grocery chains have increased frequency of hand washing, hand sanitizer use, and surface cleaning to accommodate CDC cleanliness guidelines. Visitors can also anticipate cart wipes and hand sanitizer stations available at key locations within the store, alongside increased disinfection of all departments, restrooms, and other high-touch points of the store throughout the day.

Yet, for Safeway and Albertsons, it’s not just an increase in cleanliness, it’s an increase in caretaking for those serving within the store and those most at-risk.

As a result, the front-line associates operating within the stores have been divvied a temporary $2 per-hour-worked increase, and the grocery chains have set aside dedicated shopping hours for senior citizens and other at-risk populations such as pregnant women or those with compromised immune systems.

The dedicated times are Tuesday and Thursday, 6-9 a.m., though days may be added if demand increases.

“We ask that all customers who are not categorized as ‘vulnerable’ according to the above please respect these hours,” the press release stated. “The success of the dedicated hours is dependent on the consideration and compassion of their community.”

For the general public, store hours have been adjusted to 6 a.m.-10 p.m. to provide the grocery teams enough time to restock shelves and disinfect the entirety of its stores.

Posters and tape marks along the floor can be found scattered across the shopping centers in an effort to remind customers to practice social distancing and remain six feet (comparable to two shopping carts) apart. Next week, visitors can expect floor decals with further social distancing instructions.

The grocery chains have developed contact-free delivery procedures to help reduce traffic in stores, alongside delivery services like that of Instacart.

Most notably, Safeway and Albertsons are also now offering free same-day delivery of prescriptions via ScriptDrop through at least May 1.

While the grocery chains implement a myriad of new guidelines and procedures, they also ask the public to join in on the effort. Customers bringing in reusable bags will be asked to pack their own groceries, and all guests have been asked to respect social distancing guidelines, and honor dedicated times for only those most at-risk.

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