COVID-19: Grocery stores ramping up safety procedures to protect customers, employees

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- As people in the tri-state area work together to further flatten the curve, crowds are becoming a thing of the past. That is, except for one place: grocery stores. Employees are working hard to make sure that a trip to the supermarket is safe.

South Square Supermarket on South Street has developed a pulley system to clean carts.

"It's just a cart sanitizer, and it's as simple as that, we sanitize carts and baskets," said Fred Werner, a mason who works at the grocery store now.

The supermarket hired masons out of work to keep their store sanitized.

"You dip it in the wash, a sanitizer, then you dip it in the rinse water, then you dip it in the bleach water at the end," said Werner. "Our reason for this is that people have to feel comfortable to come and get their food or they're not going to be able to survive."

"I wish I had a fast pass," said Craig Roncace, from Haddon Township, New Jersey.

The Wegmans in Cherry Hill had about a half-hour wait around lunchtime to get in.

According to Governor Murphy, starting Friday at 8 p.m., stores need to limit their occupancy by 50%, and workers and customers must wear cloth face covers when coming into essential businesses. Customers who refuse to wear a face cover for non-medical reasons must be denied entry to the business.

"If you're not sick, it's like are you doing the right thing, or not, and this kind of reassures it," said Roncace.

Once inside, many customers said it was worth the wait.

"They got quite a few registers and they're doing the same thing, stay back till they wipe down the belt, they wipe down the belt, and then ring you out," said Paul Anderson, from Cherry Hill.

According to Dana Ward, the communications and public affairs manager for Acme Markets, all stores now have six-foot distancing markers inside and glass between the cashier and customer. These changes are all part of an evolving list of changes made to the stores to ensure safety.

"Things are coming at us quickly, and we're just trying to stay ahead of them as much as possible," said Ward.

Ward says to date, Acme Markets has limited occupancy to about 20%, and by the end of the week, they're trying to get all employees a cloth mask.
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