Co-op Blog

May 1 Co-op Update: Safety at Your Co-op

This has been a very challenging time for us all. Our goal has always been to strike the right balance between operating a business that is open to the public while still providing a safe environment for our workers and shoppers. We have heard from many of our members that they appreciate our efforts to keep our employees and shoppers safe. We’ve also heard from members that feel we are not adequately protecting them during their shopping experience. Personally, I have found it challenging to land in a place that satisfies, and protects, as many people as we can.

Please continue reading to find out what we are doing now, what we have already done, what we have considered, what we are keeping a watchful eye on, and what I’m losing sleep over to best serve our community.

What We Are Doing To Make Our Co-op Safe For Shoppers And Staff

Social Distancing – This is a big challenge in a small store with multiple displays, aisles, and intersections:

  • Discontinued our hot bar and salad bar, two parts of our business with crowding and multiple touchpoints
  • Closed the Mezzanine
  • Suspended made-to-order sandwiches
  • Wrapping all of our bakery goods
  • Placed markings on the floor to help control six-foot spacing
  • Increased signage throughout the store emphasizing the importance of social distancing
    • Currently working to upgrade our floor markings and signage
  • We are currently averaging 10,000 fewer customers a week than last year. We have not officially limited the number of people in our store, but our new signage will encourage quick, efficient shopping trips. We have also empowered our employees to speak to shoppers who appear to be browsing and ask them to move along.
    • Our goal is not to exceed 40 shoppers in the store at one time. If, and when, there are more than 40 shoppers, we will limit entrance to the store.
  • We have considered one-way aisles, but after further consideration we determined this would not increase social distancing, but instead would cause more confusion and bottlenecks.

Masks –  Starting May 11th (assuming we can secure adequate supplies by this date) all staff working the sales floor will be required to wear a mask or other acceptable cloth covering of mouth and nose. A plexiglass face shield will also be acceptable.  The Co-op will supply all staff with a couple of mask options, and we will provide all staff with best practices to keep their facial coverings clean and sanitary.

We will not be requiring shoppers to wear masks or other coverings, but we will be posting signs that request shoppers to wear appropriate face coverings while they shop.

Gloves – The WHO and the CDC do not recommend the use of gloves. Multiple studies show that people who wear gloves develop a false sense of security by assuming their gloves provide added protection. Gloves can transmit germs in the same way a bare hand can. The recommended practice is to wash your hands on a regular basis and when that is unavailable to utilize a hand sanitizer. Our employees have access to both on a regular basis. (Some of our staff have decided to wear gloves in addition to hand-washing and sanitation, and we have decided to let them if they so desire).

Online Ordering & Co-op Curbside Pick-Up – We also launched our Co-op Curbside online ordering and curbside pick-up service, so anyone can get groceries and avoid coming into the store altogether. You can learn more about Co-op Curbside at skagitfoodcoop.com

Other In-Store & Safety Precautions

  • Sanitation of all grocery carts and handcarts after each use
  • Plexiglass shields at all checkout areas
  • New credit card readers at check-out that allow for touchless payment
  • We suspended self-service of the Bulk Food Department, and it is now full-service
  • Surfaces are wiped down and sanitized multiple times throughout the day
  • Increased frequency of handwashing and hand sanitizing by all staff
  • We have stopped accepting any home containers for food and bags from home.
By: Co-op Staff

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