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.
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.
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 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.