Market Basket Now Limiting Number of Customers in Stores Amid Coronavirus Crisis

“We firmly believe that with this newly refined approach we can make the grocery store experience better for all.” 

NBC Universal, Inc.

Grocery stores are one of just a few businesses that have remained packed with patrons amid the coronavirus crisis. Now, one grocery store chain has recognized that and says it is taking additional steps to ensure the healthiest and safest shopping experience for its customers and employees.

Market Basket established new store protocols and began implementing them Thursday to support the important public health goal of social distancing during the COVID-19 outbreak.

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

“We have been constantly refining our operations focused on the health and safety of our customers and associates,” said Joseph Schmidt, Operations Supervisor. “These changes reflect the wide range of input we have received on a daily basis – from our customers and our associates and from the Governors and public health experts who describe the next several weeks as critical for the health of the residents in our region. It is important that our customers have a pleasant, safe, and healthy experience in our stores.” 

Beginning April 2, all Market Basket locations are reducing the number of customers in the stores at any given time.

The new shopping protocol includes the following:

  • The number of customers shopping at one time will be limited, based on the size of the store, in order to ensure that customers have personal space, can maintain social distancing and feel more comfortable.
  • A single entrance and exit will be designated for customers' use.
  • Each shopper will be greeted upon entrance by a store associate who will clean and sanitize a carriage for them.

“Our hardworking associates are committed to helping our customers during this challenging time,” Schmidt continued. “We firmly believe that with this newly refined approach we can make the grocery store experience better for all.” 

Market Basket said it will continue its heightened disinfection program in response to the virus, focusing on high-touch surfaces including cash registers, counter tops, register belts, red baskets, shopping carriages, payment devices, touch pads, desks, door and drawer handles, phones and computers.

Associates will continue to be required to practice good hygiene including frequent hand washing, and social distancing remains in place.

PHOTOS: Here’s What Market Basket’s New Social Distancing Rules Look Like

Thursday morning at the Market Basket in Bellingham, store employees were allowing in about 150 customers at a time. The line outside was so long at one point that it extended to the Walmart next door.

Tape on the sidewalk was set up to show customers what six feet apart looks like so they don't stand too close to one another in line.

Even though many people arrived early to the Bellingham store Thursday morning hoping to beat the crowds, they found themselves waiting in a long line anyway. But they say they don't mind if it means keeping people safe.

"Yeah, I think it's a good policy for sure," said shopper Ryan Griffin. "It's been crowded here the last couple of weeks so I think it makes sense."

"I do support the decision," LeeAnn Ethier said. "I think it's better for everyone in the long run."

Shopper Dianna Chelkonas said it was a pretty simple process Thursday and that the Market Basket in Bellingham had signs before the register telling customers to stand six feet apart, which was enforced by red tape.

Crammed shopping carts and store shelves stripped bare continue to be a common sight, weeks into the coronavirus pandemic. Experts say while it's good to be prepared, panic buying will not help to relieve fear and stress.

Other stores are taking their own additional safety measures. Walmart plans to install Plexiglass barriers at the registers, and Target says it plans to rotate checkout lanes so the ones that aren't being used can undergo a deep cleaning.

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