(Bloomberg) — Each day, before the 350 employees at Fresh N’ Lean enter the company’s food preparation center in Anaheim, California, they fill out a health questionnaire and have their temperature taken.
Anyone with symptoms, even if they seem like seasonal allergies, is asked to take paid emergency sick leave. Inside, workers are spaced widely apart and wear gloves and masks as they prepare food for delivery. This week, employees received a $1 an hour raise just for coming in, since demand for mail-order meals has surged with so many people staying home.
“I take the fact that we’re an essential business very, very seriously, because people not only need to eat, but they need a good source of food,” said Fresh N’ Lean Chief Executive Officer Laureen Asseo, who added that she comes in every day to show support for her workers. “My number one goal is how do we stay safe, and how do we continue to prepare safe food for people.”
By all accounts, Fresh N’ Lean—and other companies considered essential to the U.S. economy such as Walmart, Home Depot, Lowe’s and Kroger—are creating a standard for operating during a pandemic. For retail locations, that includes wider or one-way aisles (or both) to keep shoppers farther apart, touchless payments and Plexiglas shields (and sometimes masks and gloves) for cashiers. Store hours are being reduced, and the number of customers allowed in at any one time is limited. All the while, store surfaces are cleaned, and cleaned, and cleaned again.
Big box stores and grocery chains in certain areas of the US are being banned from selling non-essential items to customers to reduce foot traffic and prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Some local governments have issued executive orders that require chains to either empty areas of the store with non-essential items such as clothing and electronics or rope off these items from customers.
Some shoppers are applauding new restrictions and encouraging other local governments to do the same.
Local governments around the US are starting to take more draconian measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus by banning “essential” stores such as grocery chains or big-box retailers from selling “non-essential” items such as clothing and electronics.
These stores, which have been allowed to stay open during state lockdowns across the US because they are deemed as “essential” businesses by selling groceries or offering pharmacy services, for example, are now required by law in some parts of the US to remove any non-essential items from their stores or rope off areas of the store so that customers are unable to access these products.
The state of Vermont is among those clamping down on this. At the end of March, the state governor issued an executive order banning big-box stores from selling non-essential items.
“Large ‘big box’ retailers generate significant shopping traffic by virtue of their size and the variety of goods offered in a single location,” Vermont’s Agency of Commerce and Community Development Secretary Lindsay Kurrle said in a statement to the press at the time.