Grocery stores have formed an important line of defense against public panic about the coronavirus pandemic. Some have implemented order limits to prevent anxious shoppers from hoarding. Others have enacted new rules requiring workers to wear masks and allow no more than 10 patrons in a store at a time. Still another store, following measures enacted in Brazil and China, has started taking customers’ temperatures to ensure no shopper has a temperature above 99 degrees, according to the Pennsylvania news outlet WNEP.
“We had to limit how many rolls of toilet paper, how many cases of water, and I saw back in the shelves they’re limiting how many gallons of ice cream people got,” Jeff Shook, co-owner of Lake Region IGA, told the news station. Paul Goldie, who normally goes grocery shopping twice a week, said he’s happy to follow the new rules. “Gives a little more confidence in the people you’re around are OK,” Goldie told WNEP. “Everybody wants to be safe, and we all just have to obey rules at this point.”
There have been 44,183 coronavirus cases and 544 resulting deaths in the United States according to a Centers for Disease Control update on Tuesday. The virus spreads when an infected person within 6 feet of another person coughs or sneezes, producing respiratory droplets that make their way to the mouth or nose of another person, the agency reported. The coronavirus can spread when someone inhales the droplets.
Gladys Del Carpio, who owns Don Victorio’s market with her husband in West Palm Beach, said her store is one of the locations that requires workers to wear masks and limits the number of shoppers to 10 at a time. “We want to protect, protect ourselves and our customers,” Del Carpio told WPTV. “We don’t want to be exposed to the virus.”
Along with keeping health and safety guidelines at the forefront of their priorities, business owners and the customers they serve are working to prevent hoarders from depleting store supplies. Publix stores are opening an hour earlier to allow customers who 65 and older to shop ahead of bustling crowds on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Several San Antonio restaurants have turned their businesses into grocery stores to address local food shortages.
Michael Arundel, a junior at the University of Alabama, started a “no fee” shopping nonprofit for elderly people in his Chicago suburb. “I think we are all looking for something to do during this time, and I felt this would be the best use of our time,” Arundel, of the group Leave it to Us, told NBC Chicago.
Ashley Gomez, a shopper at chef Johnny Hernandez’s restaurant La Gloria, told San Antonio Express-News she waited in line at the Texas restaurant to buy rice, paper towels, and other necessities. “I’ve been looking for rice everywhere, and they’re completely empty everywhere else,” Gomez said. “I’ve gone a week without rice.” Other San Antonio businesses acting as grocery stores include Jet-Setter, Mi Tierra, Picnikins Cafe & Catering, and Sangria on the Burg.
Benjamin Krick, who co-owns Jet-Setter, told the local newspaper his bar became a “pay-what-you-can grocery store” on Monday, and he vowed not to turn away anyone who can’t afford groceries. “Right now the focus is people, not profit,” Krick told San Antonio Express-News. “There’s a lot of people, especially industry-related, that didn’t have time to prepare because they were working up to the last minute.”
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