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Concerns continue over safe shopping

(WCAX)
Published: Apr. 2, 2020 at 4:33 PM EDT
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While many grocery stores are making accommodations to keep employees and customers safe, there's growing concern about some of these essential workers showing up for work sick.

Elizabeth Leggett said she was shopping at the Price Chopper in Essex Junction Wednesday night. While checking out, she says she overheard a conversation between two employees about another worker who was bagging groceries at another register and was not feeling well.

"Talking about how she couldn't understand how the manager hadn't removed her yet from bagging groceries because she had a fever," Leggett said. She says this was especially concerning because she and her husband both have immunity issues. "We have to be extra cautious."

Worried about a potential hazard for her health and those around her, Leggett says she confronted the employees. "She clarified with me that the girl did have a fever and had come to work and that the manager was supposedly working on it," she said.

Leggett said she then brought her concern to the manager. "He didn't close it down, he just removed the girl," she said.

"I understand that a cashier told a customer that she was feeling feverish before telling a supervisor," said Mona Golub, a Price Chopper spokeswoman. She says the store manager acted quickly and the employee was sent home right away like anyone who says they are feeling ill. "It's a personal responsibility for each of us to express how we are feeling."

With 132 stores in six states, Golub says the chain is following CDC procedures to keep their employees and customers safe, but their workers are out on the front lines everyday. "We make the assumption that we are operating with coronavirus in the communities that we are serving right now," Golub said.

Leggett says she still wishes the store moved quicker but understands those on the job are also putting themselves at risk. "They are the front line and people still need to go in and get groceries," she said.

Leggett says she did not see workers wipe down the counter where the worker was bagging. Price Chopper says it is there policy to wipe down after every customer and then do a deep clean every night.

The company would not say if that employee has been tested. They did say that no other employees have tested positive so far.

HANNAFORD TO RESTART PICK UP SERVICE

Meanwhile, Hannaford executives say they've had one Vermont worker test positive for COVID-19 at the Barre location. They've since sterilized the store and reopened.

They grocery chain had to put their "Hannaford-to-go" pick up service on hold. Hannaford's Todd Bullen says it was because they needed all their associates focused on restocking store shelves, and that the service is already back up and running in some stores.

"We anticipate by Monday to be back up and running. They're coming back in different stages based on when they're ready to do that inside the store, but by next Monday we do anticipate them all to be back up and running," he said.

There are changes though: expect substitutions, all sales are final, you can only pay with a credit card, debit or gift card or mobile pay, and drop off will occur six feet away. All sales are final.

Bullen says they're looking for temporary workers to help them during the pandemic. They're offering employees a $2 an hour "appreciation bonus."

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