Grocery stores installing barriers amid virus outbreak


(AP)– Grocery stores across the U.S. are installing protective plastic shields at checkouts to help keep cashiers and shoppers from infecting one another with the coronavirus.

At a Stop & Shop supermarket in Quincy, just south of Boston, shoppers are paying for and bagging their groceries, separated from employees by newly installed see-through barriers.

Jennifer Brogan is a spokeswoman for Stop & Shop, a grocery chain with 415 stores across five states in northeastern United States.

“In each of our stores, we have erected plexiglass shields at every register and those are because, when you’re checking out, there’s not a six-foot distance — as recommended by the CDC — between the cashier and the customer. So we’ve added that as protection as a shield between the two. And it’s just clear plastic. And each time a new cashier comes to the register, it’s cleaned,” she says.

Customers are happy to see the new protective measures.

That includes Jasmine Vazquez, a health home aide who currently serves seven clients.

“I think is a great protection for customers and people like me that go in and the cashiers. We’re supposed to be six feet away, but we’re closer to them. So that protection helps and I feel safer,” Vazquez said.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks.

For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.

Also installing plastic are Giant Eagle grocery stores in Ohio, as well as Walmart and the Kroger supermarket chain, which said “sneeze guards” will be erected at all its more than 2,700 stores in the next few weeks as the outbreak intensifies.

The Florida-based Publix supermarket chain said Wednesday that all 1,200 locations will have partitions installed at the cash registers, customer service desks and pharmacies within two weeks.

Sixty-two-year-old Stephen Kast said the protective measures are a visible indication of the dramatic changes caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

Grocery stores have seen their business soar as authorities urge people go out only for essentials, leading them to stay and cook more at home.

The stores have been extremely busy and forced to close earlier to give workers more time to clean and restock as products fly off the shelves.

Some stores have announced their employees have COVID-19.

Publix announced this week that an associate in Cumming, Georgia, tested positive.

Some grocery stores in France also installed similar barriers last week when that country went into lockdown.

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