“Effective Friday at 6 a.m., all big box retailers will be required to implement COVID-19 compliant protocols,” the Mayor announced this week.
The mayor says stores must:
- Limit the number of customers inside at one time
- Maintain social distancing
- Establish waiting lines inside and outside by marking 6ft increments
- Provide hand sanitizer at entrances
- Require employees to wear facial coverings when in spaces accessible to the public
"The mayor raised the bar a little bit,” Rob Ikard, the president of the Tennessee Grocers and Convenience Store Association, told WMC Action News 5.
Ikard says most grocery stores had already put safety measures into place.
Kroger released a video of its COVID-19 protocols, including plexiglass screens separating checkers and customers. Whole Foods required customers to follow social distancing weeks ago.
Many food industry workers are wearing masks, but not all are. And Ikard says the mayor’s office took that into account while developing his executive order in collaboration with the association.
“If you look at the wording of the mayor’s order they’re calling for face coverings and not specifically masks," he said. "And that was a concession to the fact that masks are in very high demand.”
The mayor also wants Memphians to cover their faces when they shop, though few retailers require it. So far, only Fresh Market is denying access to customers who don’t have masks.
“By and large I think that retailers prefer not to tell their customers how they have to present themselves at the grocery store,” said Ikard. “But masks are a good idea.”
The mayor’s order also says stores must make at least one hour a day available for the vulnerable, pregnant or elderly to shop.
And If you see a store not in compliance, you can call 311 to report it. Memphis Police or Code Enforcement will investigate.
“We cannot squander, all of the good that we have done with our social distancing efforts to slow the spread of the virus," said Mayor Strickland.