Kroger to install 'sneeze guards' in checkout lanes during pandemic

Posted at 6:18 PM, Mar 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-24 18:18:07-04

CINCINNATI — Kroger stores will begin installing plexiglass partitions at cash registers this week to protect workers and customers from COVID-19, spokeswoman Erin Rolfes announced Tuesday afternoon.

The company plans for every checkout lane, including those at pharmacies and in-store Starbucks locations, to have a “sneeze guard” within the next several weeks. “Educational floor decals” will instruct customers where to stand as they wait in line.

Kroger employees will also be allowed to wear masks and gloves to work to protect themselves from the virus, Rolfes said.

RELATED: Kroger to set aside morning hour for senior, high-risk shoppers

The grocery chain had already reduced its hours in response to the virus, shrinking from round-the-clock scheduling at many locations to operating hours of 7 a.m.-9 p.m.

The time off ensures that each store can be thoroughly cleaned and restocked overnight, according to Rolfes. So will the estimated 10,000 new employees the chain anticipates hiring to help keep stores operating during the pandemic.

“We continue to enhance our daily sanitation practices, including cleaning commonly used areas more often like cashier stations, self-checkouts, credit card terminals, food service counters and shelves,” Rolfes wrote in a news release.

Grocery stores are among the few businesses not at risk of shutting down as a consequence of COVID-19. While restaurants shave down their menus and lay off workers, chains such as Kroger and Walmart continue to hire. The scramble for necessities such as eggs, milk and toilet paper became so intense that Kroger implemented a per-customer limit for each item.

Rolfes said existing employees will also be able to take up to 14 days off with pay if diagnosed with COVID-19, placed under mandatory quarantine, or self-isolating as a result of COVID-19 exposure.