Kroger stores will start erecting plexiglass “sneeze guard” partitions at cash registers this week to protect its customers and employees from COVID-19, according to spokeswoman Erin Rolfes.
“Many of our stores are beginning the installation process this week, and we anticipate every checklane having a partition, including pharmacy counters and Starbucks registers, within the next several weeks,” Rolfes said in a statement. “In addition, we are installing educational floor decals to promote physical distancing at checklanes and other counters.”
The Cincinnati-based company will also permit its employees to wear masks and gloves at work to protect themselves from the virus, Rolfes said.
“There is a national shortage of personal protective equipment like this, and we fully support America’s health care workers having first priority to obtain the equipment they need,” Rolfes said. “We are advocating to government officials at all levels for help securing a priority place in line for all grocery workers — after health care workers — to have access to protective masks and gloves.”
The grocery chain recently reduced its hours in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, reducing the 24/7 operating hours offered by many locations to 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
That time off allows each store to be thoroughly cleaned and restocked overnight, Rolfes said. So will the estimated 10,000 new employees the chain anticipates hiring to help keep stores operating during the pandemic.
“We continue to enhance our daily sanitation practices, including cleaning commonly used areas more often like cashier stations, self-checkouts, credit card terminals, food service counters and shelves,” she said.
Rolfes said Kroger has enacted Emergency Leave Guidelines, allowing existing employees to take up to 14 days off with standard pay if diagnosed with COVID-19, placed under mandatory quarantine, or self-isolating as a result of COVID-19 exposure and for those with “symptoms as verified by an accredited health care professional.”
“For those affected by COVID-19, the organization has also made available additional resources through the Kroger Family of Companies Helping Hands fund to provide financial assistance to associates who face hardship due to COVID-19, including lack of access to childcare and for those considered higher-risk,” Rolfes said.
Plexiglass barriers or partitions are not only being installed at Kroger, but at Walmart and other large grocery store chains nationwide to ensure that the airborne droplets produced by a sneeze or cough won’t reach the person on the other side.
"Staying safe and healthy is more important than ever for our associates, our customers and for us," Dacona Smith, executive vice president and chief operating officer, Walmart U.S., wrote in a blog post Tuesday. "Installing these barriers is another way Walmart is helping bring peace of mind that we are doing everything we can to keep our people and our stores safe."
Smith also said Walmart is adding decals to promote social distancing on floors and has "found a new solution to help associates clean carts quicker and more thoroughly."
That solution is the Hart brand two gallon sprayer kits Walmart sells in stores to sanitize the entire shopping cart.
“For stores that don’t have this sprayer, we plan to start shipping them out this week,” Smith said.
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