Giant has joined Acme, Aldi, and other supermarkets in limiting the number of shoppers allowed in their stores due to the coronavirus.
Starting Monday, Giant, the Carlisle-based grocer that has recently expanded from the suburbs into the city, said in a statement that capacity limits will vary by location, and be determined by “several factors including occupancy and selling square feet.”
Acme, which was founded in Philadelphia and has its headquarters in Malvern, said last week it would keep stores at 20% of capacity at any given time. President Jim Perkins called the measure “an important step to help reinforce social distancing.”
All of its 164 stores, including dozens in the Philadelphia region, were to be in compliance with the new capacity regulations until further notice.
Aldi, the Germany-based discount grocer that has expanded its Philly footprint in recent years, will permit only five customers per 1,000 square feet. Modest-size stores have about 10,000 square feet of shopping space, which would allow for 50 customers.
Throughout the Philadelphia area, other supermarket officials have taken similar steps as they try to balance protecting employees and ensuring customers can safely get the food they need. Local Trader Joe’s stores have been limiting customers, as have smaller shops such as Di Bruno Bros. and Fishtown’s Riverwards Produce.
Other places have been slower to do so. Workers at Mom’s Organic Market are calling for more safety precautions, including stricter capacity regulations, after an employee at the Center City location tested positive for the coronavirus.
Government officials are weighing in, too. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy ordered grocers last week to limit customers to keep stores at no more than 50% of capacity, and mandated that customers and employees wear masks. Last month, when the stay-at-home order went into effect in Philadelphia, Mayor Jim Kenney recommended that stores “manage occupancy to allow for social distancing."
Nationwide, employees of Trader Joe’s, Giant, and Walmart have died of the virus, causing concern among essential workers.
Along with implementing the customer limits, Giant said it will distribute masks and face-shields to employees, who will be required to wear them in the store.
Acme said it has provided masks for all store and distribution center employees. Acme and Giant had already introduced other social distancing measures, including one-way aisles.
Aldi said it will move to one-way aisles, will clean carts outside the store, will take the temperature of employees, and will encourage people to shop by themselves unless they must bring a child or assist a relative. If lines form to enter a store, Aldi said, it will enforce social distancing and allow medical professionals who show ID to move to the front of the line.