Grocers detail safety measures


BENNINGTON — Large grocery stores in the area have implemented an array of safety-related measures in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Price Chopper/Market 32 supermarkets continue "to adjust our business and on a daily basis to meet the developing needs of our customers, teammates, trade partners and communities," Mona Golub, the chain's vice president of public relations and consumer services, wrote in an email on Thursday. "And we continue to increase both the frequency and intensity of our sanitation protocols."

The Bennington Price Chopper is located in Monument Plaza off of Route 7A. Normally open 24 hours a day, the store is now closed from 10:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. "in order to facilitate restocking and comprehensive overnight sanitation," Scott Grimmett, the company's president and CEO, explained in a message to the public last month. Seniors and immunocompromised individuals can shop at the chain's stores from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m.

"In support of social distancing protocols, we've erected stanchion signage and laid down floor graphics with visuals that emphasize the message, begun alternating open registers wherever possible, and are blitz-installing plexiglass shields at all full-service points of contact across all 132 of our stores," in Vermont and five other states, Golub wrote.

According to Grimmett's message, the chain has "increased compensation and schedule adjustments [for employees] that accommodate their individual needs, such as childcare and other support." The company also announced last month that it was seeking to hire 2,000 new part-time or temporary part-time employees.

Hannaford, a chain that has a location in Bennington on Route 67A, has implemented an array of social distancing measures, including signage, spacing decals, intercom prompts and protective barriers at checkouts, according to a recently released fact sheet.

The company is offering sanitizing wipes at store entrances and regularly sanitizing "high-touch points," according to the sheet.

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Stores are opening early — from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. — on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays "for seniors and other high-risk customers," the company said. The store's regular hours have been scaled back to 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily to allow for cleaning, stocking and additional time to rest for employees.

Hannaford also has recommended having only one family member shop at a time and avoiding busy shopping times.

Hannaford Supermarkets Vice President of Retail Operations Todd Bullen said in an interview on Thursday that hourly associates at the company's stores are receiving an additional $2 per hour amid the pandemic. The company is also hiring temporary help to better support demand, Bullen said.

In an update to customers released on Thursday, April 2, Aldi, which operates a store located at 10 Kocher Drive, said that over the past several weeks it has "intensified cleaning practices in all our facilities and have issued health and safety guidance for our employees and customers to follow within our stores."

The company is now "actively sourcing personal protective equipment for our employees to use, upon request," installing signage and floor decals to promote social distancing, and placing protective barriers at checkouts, according to the update.

Aldi has reserved Tuesday and Thursday mornings from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. at stores for vulnerable shoppers, which according to an announcement last month includes "senior citizens, expectant mothers and those with underlying health concerns."

The company has also temporarily strengthened wages, bolstered scheduling flexibility, modified store hours and increased hiring efforts, according to the April 2 update.

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