In some of its stores, Trader Joe’s has imposed limits on the number of shoppers allowed inside at one time as the grocer tries to slow the spread of the coronavirus in its facilities, according to multiple news reports. Stores in California, Georgia and North Carolina are among the locations where these limits are in place.
A Trader Joe’s store in Charlotte, N.C., is capping the number of shoppers allowed in simultaneously at approximately 30, a store employee told Grocery Dive by phone. In addition, a Trader Joe's in Atlanta has instituted a limit of 35 people, while another location in the Atlanta area has a limit of between 35 and 40 people, 11Alive reported. Meanwhile, a Trader Joe’s in Santa Maria, California, has a 50-shopper limit, according to KEYT-TV.
Grocery Dive has reached out to Trader Joe's for comment but had not heard back as of press time. A spokeswoman told the Charlotte Observer there is no company-wide policy in place regarding social distancing, and that locations are adjusting to their local needs and regulations. “The need is different at each store,” she told the newspaper.
Efforts by Trader Joe’s to control the number of shoppers allowed in its stores come as supermarkets across the United States are racing to get people essential supplies while also preventing the spread of coronavirus. Stores have introduced a variety of measures to combat the virus, including rules that bar people from bringing their own bags and special shopping hours for seniors and others with underlying health conditions.
Last week, Hy-Vee and Albertsons said they would install temporary glass partitions at checkout stations to protect cashiers and customers.
The limits imposed by Trader Joe’s could make it easier for its shoppers to maintain distance between themselves and others as they move around the store. Social distancing tops the list of ways health authorities are trying to stop the spread of the virus, but grocery stores have faced challenges in keeping people apart as shoppers have flocked to supermarkets to stock up on goods.
Albertsons said yesterday that it is taking steps to keep people apart in its stores. Shoppers will be instructed not to approach checkouts until the customer ahead of them has left, and stores will add floor markers to guide people.
Trader Joe’s has temporarily closed three of its locations because staff members who had recently been in the stores tested positive for the virus. The company has urged customers who were in the stores, located in New York City; Plainview, New York; and Elkridge, Maryland, over the past two weeks to contact local health officials.
Although grocery stores have been making decisions to implement measures to deal with the coronavirus, government officials have tried to impose additional requirements. The mayor of Garwood, New Jersey, last week ordered all ShopRite and Kings Food Markets in the borough to set aside two hours per day for people over 55 and limit the number of shoppers during those times to half of their capacity, TapIntoClark reported. Garwood also planned to require the grocers to restrict access to people based on their last initial, with people whose last names begin with A through M allowed to enter on even-numbered days shoppers whose last names start with other letters permitted to shop on odd-numbered days.
Just before the rules were set to go into effect, however, Garwood canceled its plans after being advised not to proceed by state officials, according to NJ.com.