TAMPA, Fla. - Katie McFarland finds herself going to the grocery store more than ever these days.
“Because I’m only able to get a few things at a time that I need, so I feel like I come probably two times a week,” McFarland explained.
The uncertain times have meant changes in how stores operate, like Plexiglass barriers between shoppers and cashiers at Publix and Winn Dixie stores.
The Britton Plaza Publix just had its Plexiglas installed Tuesday night. “I think it’s just for everybody’s safety, you know? I understand it, we’re just trying to take precautions,” said McFarland.
The southeastern grocery giant expects to have all 1,200 of its stores equipped with the barriers by the end of next week.
“We need to keep our grocery workers safe and they’re on the front lines right now, so I think it’s a really positive thing,” said shopper Barbara Picca.
Publix is also now providing employees gloves to wear during their shifts. Workers can wear masks too, but they have to bring their own. Publix spokesperson Maria Brous said this is because existing masks must be saved for healthcare workers.
At Trader Joe’s, long lines snaking around the outside of the building is now a common sight.
The line outside Tampa’s Swann Avenue location is all a part of their new policy allowing only 30 shoppers in at a time. During the lunchtime hour, it took about 20 minutes to get into the store to shop.
Trader Joe’s said it’s also in the process of installing Plexiglas at store registers, and informing customers if they would like to bag their own groceries in their reusable bags, they are free to do so, but the cashiers will not handle personal bags at this time.
Barbara Picca says she’s impressed at how many of the grocery stores have handled the crisis.
“I think that they’ve worked really hard to keep the stores clean and stock their shelves, and they’ve also had an amazing attitude toward their customers.”
If you feel sick:
The Florida Department of Health has opened a COVID-19 Call Center at 1-866-779-6121. Agents will answer questions around the clock. Questions may also be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Email responses will be sent during call center hours.
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