Social distancing in Aisle 2: How grocery stores handle it

Coronavirus

Guidelines up to stores to implement

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Grocery stores are one of the few businesses that remain open during the pandemic. They’re required to have social distancing measures in place, but as you may have seen those measures can vary from store to store.

The Oregon Department of Agriculture, which regulates grocery stores, provided guidelines for social distancing. But it’s up to the company or the store to decide what works best for them.

Oregon Department of Agriculture – COVID-19 Information
Oregon Department of Agriculture – Social Distancing Guidelines

In order to keep customers at least 6 feet apart, recommended practices include limiting the number of customers in the store and check out lines. The Department of Agriculture also recommends things like plexiglass barriers between cashiers and customers, along with signs recommending customers to stay the length of 2 grocery carts apart.

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The stores’ response has evolved, the agency said, and they continue to focus on providing outreach and education.

“We haven’t issued specific requirements in terms of what they must do,” said the agency’s Isaak Stapleton. “Like, not everyone is required to put tape on the floor to distance customers. If they have a different method that works for them we’re letting them make those choices. But the recommendation for keeping everyone distanced while shopping is still there.”

Grocery shoppers wearing masks at a Fred Meyer store in NE Portland during the coronavirus pandemic, April 1, 2020 (KOIN)

The Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration handles enforcement of Gov. Kate Brown’s executive order as it pertains to employers and employees. This week, OSHA announced its ramping up enforcement activity.

In fact, they’re starting spot checks to verify employers are complying with requirements aimed at curbing the pandemic.

An OSHA spokesperson told KOIN 6 News complaints about grocery stores are about 5% of their total complaints right now. Those complaints are not typically about a store not doing anything for social distancing but, rather, not doing enough.

Anyone with a concern about safety at a business like a grocery store, you’re asked to contact Oregon OSHA.

Continuing Coverage: Coronavirus

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