Massachusetts coronavirus

New Supermarket Rules in Mass.: What You Need to Know

Customers should consider online delivery or curbside pickup when possible in order to limit visits to grocery stores

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The Massachusetts Department of Public Health issued new strict guidelines for supermarkets on Wednesday to reduce the exposure of workers and customers to the coronavirus.

Each grocery store statewide would limit the number of customers, including employees, to 40% of the store's capacity, under the new regulations. While this rule doesn't apply to stores with a maximum capacity of 25 people or less, the staff at every store would be responsible for monitoring the number of customers entering and exiting.

Following the death of a grocery store employee from COVID-19, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker is working on new guidelines to protect employees.

Workers will also be required to make sure that customers in line outside the stores respect the social-distancing protocol, staying 6-feet apart.

The DPH said that while it will work with supermarkets to ensure that food and essential products will continue to be available to the public, customers should consider online delivery or curbside pickup whenever possible, limiting their visits to stores.

In some cases, grocery stores could create one-way aisles to maintain the social-distancing protocol and maximize the space between customers, health officials said.

A grocery store worker has died from COVID-19.

The new guidelines were announced following the recent death from COVID-19 of Vitalina Williams, a Market Basket cashier in Salem.

Williams, 59, died on Saturday about a week after getting sick according to her husband.

Market Basket has announced additional social distancing measures that will take effect April 2, including limiting the number of customers shopping at one time.

Market Basket said in a statement that two other employees tested positive for the virus and that the store is taking all precautions to protect the staff and customers, including having a specialized cleaning crew to clean and disinfect the store.

Massachusetts coronavirus cases were at 16,790 Wednesday, including 433 deaths. The state expects a peak sometime between April 10 and April 20.

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