BOSTON (CBS) – Should grocery stores limit the number of customers allowed inside? That’s a question many people are asking as social distancing is becoming difficult in crowded stores.
Costco recently announced it would only allow two people per membership card inside its wholesale clubs, and Massachusetts-based Market Basket announced it would also limit the number of customers in stores.
Beginning Thursday, the store will allow a limited number of customers inside the store at one time to create more space between shoppers.
— Market Basket (@MarketBasket) March 31, 2020
“We have been constantly refining our operations focused on the health and safety of our customers and associates,” said Operations Supervisor Joseph Schmidt. “These changes reflect the wide range of input we have received on a daily basis – from our customers and our associates and from the governors and public health experts who describe the next several weeks as critical for the health of the residents in our region. It is important that our customers have a pleasant, safe, and healthy experience in our stores.”
Stores will also have a single entrance and exit for customers’ use, and shoppers will be greeted by a Market Basket employee who will clean and sanitize a carriage for them.
Jennifer Ouderkirk worries that people aren’t taking the threat of COVID-19 seriously when she sees crowded aisles at the supermarket. “My anxiety goes up, you know?”
Ouderkirk, who wears a mask and gloves while shopping, says she’s been stocking up for three family members so they don’t have to make trips. “I think the less people are out the better,” she said. “Basically I’m the only one out in my family.”
Rhode Island has a strict limit on how many people can be inside stores. No more than 20 percent of the capacity. Massachusetts has not imposed a limit, but grocery stores must set aside hours for seniors and have protocols to keep shoppers at least 6 feet apart. That can be difficult in a crowded store, said Stop and Shop customer Kathy Bates. “You’re still on top of each other,” Bates said. “You try to keep your distance, but you’re still on top of each other.”