San Diego County is requiring all employees at grocery and convenience stores, pharmacies, restaurants and gas stations to wear face coverings and businesses across the region are changing the way they operate to adhere to the new rules.
Outside of the Mission Valley Trader Joe’s on Tuesday, workers had their faces covered and were limiting the number of shoppers allowed inside. Customers like Joe Binno said he appreciated the extra steps the grocery store was going to ensure social distancing.
"I really admire what Trader Joe's is doing because when you get inside it's not crowded so you can really do the social distancing while at the same time go shopping," said Binno. "Whereas, other stores you walk in and it's so packed so you're trying to do your part to stay away minimum six feet."
At Northgate Market in Barrio Logan, employees placed tape on the ground and had tents up to also limit the number of customers allowed inside at a time.
Although they are not mandated, several shoppers were following the county's request to wear masks when conducting essential business.
"We're just trying to stay covered up. I actually put a bandanna on my 3-year-old for the first time," said Northgate shopper Chris Mush.
County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said Monday businesses can refuse service to any patron not wearing a face covering. Employees were required to wear one under an amendment to the public health order.
In Clairemont, shops like Sprouts had signs posted with notices asking shoppers to follow their "two cart length" rule, an effort to keep customers spread out in stores.
The amended public health order also required all businesses that remain open to set physical distancing and hygiene procedures and post the guidance at the entrance to their business by Tuesday.
At the Mission Valley Costco an employee with a bandana on directed customers and turned around anyone who brought their own bags from home, which some grocery stores have added to their individual policies to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
NBC 7 Responds said as of April 6, these policies do not appear to be chain-wide. That means some stores are still allowing reusable bags, while others are banning them. For tips on how to sanitize reusable bags, click here.
The California Grocers Association is also providing some guidelines on how to shop during the coronavirus pandemic. They include:
- Only visit the grocery store when it’s essential, and then buy only what you need for one week, or a little more.
- Help reduce store crowding.
- Practice social distancing within the store.
- Inspect produce with your eyes, not your hands.
- Avoid unnecessary handling of all items in store.
- Don’t crowd the check stand.
- Treat grocery employees with kindness.
- Be aware of your store’s special hours or procedures.
- Allow for extra time.
- Consider online or delivery options to get your grocery essentials.
Customers at the stores seemed understanding and cooperated with the changes put in place. Binno said, "just like what everyone else has been going through, we just have to adapt and understand we’re all going through this together."