The supermarket chain Kroger announced new measures to help slow the spread of the coronavirus in its stores on Monday. Kroger is following in the footsteps of other retailers like Walmart by limiting the number of customers who can enter a store at one time. Starting on Tuesday, stores will limit the number of customers to half of each store's calculated capacity. Each store will only allow one customer per 120 square feet.
"Kroger's introduction of customer capacity limits is one more way we are doing our part to flatten the curve while operating as an essential business, providing our customers with access to fresh, affordable food and products," Mary Ellen Adcock, Kroger's senior vice president of operations, said in a statement Monday. "During this national pandemic, we are committed to adopting preventive measures to help protect the safety and health of our associates, customers and communities." Kroger also encourages its employees to wear masks and gloves and is starting to mark aisles one-way to limit the number of customers going down the aisles.
The chain said it plans to use QueVision technology, which is already used to count the number of customers coming in and leaving stores, to keep track of capacity. "By leveraging QueVision, our technology system that uses infrared sensors and predictive analytics, we will be able to more efficiently support our new capacity limits, creating a safer environment for our customers and associates," Yael Cosset, the company's chief technology and digital officer added.
This is the latest measure Kroger has taken to help keep customers and employees safe during the virus. Back on March 31, the company announced it would install plexiglass shields at checkout lanes and pharmacy counties, as well as floor decals to remind customers of social distancing. The company also announced "enhanced" daily sanitation procedures, particularly in the most commonly-used areas of stores. Operating hours were also shifted to give associates more time to restock, clean and take breaks.
Kroger employees also received a one-time bonus for frontline associates on April 3. However, Kroger is also giving employees a "hero bonus," adding $2 more above their standard base rate of pay through April 18. "The Hero Bonus is just one more way we continue to convey our thanks and gratitude not only to our existing associates but also to the more than 30,000 new hires who have joined in the past two weeks and those who will soon join the Kroger Family of Companies," Rodney McMullen, Kroger's chairman and CEO, said last week.
Most retailers still open during the coronavirus pandemic have instituted capacity limits to keep customers and employees safe. This past weekend, Walmart began limiting stores to only 20 percent of normal capacity. Target also instituted capacity limits on Saturday, reports NPR.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. passed 350,000 on Monday, reports Johns Hopkins University. More than 10,300 deaths have been recorded, including over 3,000 in New York City alone. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides a list of ways to help prevent contracting the virus.