While millions have self-isolated and have been telecommuting or not going into work at all amid fears of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, there’s a select group that doesn't have that option: grocery store employees.
The world has slowed to a halt for much of the country, but things have only sped up at grocery stores, where shoppers have been flooding aisles and clearing out shelves as the virus continues to spread.
While most across the country have taken to social distancing and staying six feet away from others, store clerks have no choice but to deal with a never-ending line of people stripping shelves and stocking their pantries as they prepare to hunker down at home.
The outbreak has led to some states deeming grocery store employees as “essential workers,” which provides them with additional benefits similar to those of health care providers and first responders. Grocers are also hiring tens of thousands of employees nationwide to help accommodate the rush of shoppers.
To combat the spread of the virus, employees at grocery stores have been equipped with personal hand sanitizer at their cash registers, and have been busy wiping down their conveyors and checkout stands in between customers to ensure they are sanitized.
Employees have also been instructed to take additional breaks to wash their hands, despite wearing gloves and masks as a precaution.
Some retailers and grocers, such as Tops Market, Whole Foods, Target, and CVS, which provide groceries, have also provided bonuses and additional benefits for permanent and part-time employees.
"We continue to experience incredible demand across our business, and Target's ability to help our guests in this unprecedented time would not be possible without the strength of our team," Target CEO Brian Cornell previously said in a statement. "I am proud and humbled by the dedication and humanity they show to our guests every day.”
According to some experts, in order to shop safely and help stem the spread of coronavirus, all food containers should be wiped down with soap and water, as well as wiping down produce. One should also avoid using cash in favor of credit and debit cards.
It's also important not to touch your face after grocery shopping until you have washed your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds.
“When shopping for food or going to a restaurant to pick up takeout, customers should use hand sanitizer before entering the building and wash their hands or use hand sanitizer upon leaving,” federal health officials said. “Anyone who has symptoms of the virus or thinks they have been exposed should not go food shopping or enter a restaurant.”
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