Local stores take steps to protect employees and customers

The Sheetz store at the intersection of Route 20 and Route 11 in Ashtabula Township is taking precautions to keep employees and customers healthy during the coronavirus outbreak.

In response to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 outbreak, some local grocery, carry-out and convenient stores are making changes to protect the health and well-being of employees and customers.

Giant Eagle is upping its sanitation game and taking steps to be mindful of social distancing. In addition, throughout the next week or so, the grocery chain is:

• Installing plexiglass dividers to checkout and customer service areas;

• Installing floor indicators and signage at checkout lanes, visually indicating appropriate social distance between guests, and

• Asking guests to stop bringing reusable bags into the store.

“These are just a few examples of the steps we are taking to safeguard the health and wellbeing of both our team members and guests,” said Giant Eagle spokesperson Dan Donovan.

“We are not wavering in our commitment to providing an unparalleled guest service or a future free of single-use plastics, but rather are asking our guests to take this opportunity to help us promote the safest shopping experience possible.”

All Giant Eagle groceries will be bagged in either single-use plastic bags or paper bags, both of which are available at no charge. Giant Eagle is also temporarily pausing its “fuelperks+ one perk per reusable bag used” promotion to discourage reusable bag use.

Little Caesars Pizza in Ashtabula isn’t taking cash to protect its employees, and there’s no “hot and ready” food, everything must be ordered, said William Yoak, assistant manager.

“We also aren’t allowing more than three people in our lobby,” he said. “It’s for everyone’s protection.”

In Ashtabula Township, Sheetz suspended its self-serve coffee, fountain drinks, tea, frozen drinks and milkshakes. Anyone who would like to purchase a cup of coffee should use the touch-screen order points or ask an employee for assistance.

The store also temporarily discontinued self-serve bakery items such as doughnuts and muffins.

“Sheetz is doing everything we can to prioritize the health and well-being of our team members, customers and the communities we serve as the situation around COVID-19 continues to evolve, “ said Travis Sheetz, president of Sheetz Inc. in a prepared statement.

“These changes are in the best interest of our customers and employees as we remain a vital resource for our communities.”

These changes follow other modifications already in place which include enhanced routine daily cleaning procedures with a focus on high touch surface areas such as gas pumps, order points, counter tops, checkout lines and door handles, as well as reinforcing and re-training of all employees on proper hand washing and hygiene.

At Circle K, employees are keeping the store clean inside and out, according to a prepared statement from Chief Executive Officer Brian Hannasch.

“That includes anywhere your hands may go from surfaces, screens, pumps, restrooms and more,” he said. “This is always a priority for us, but now we have asked all our store teams to go the extra mile as we know with this virus, cleanliness is key to health and safety.”

Circle K also temporarily suspended "fill your own cup" at its stores, according to signage.

In Jefferson, Sander’s Market has temporarily stopped self-serve doughnuts, as well. 

But life goes on as usual at Better-N-Bulk in Austinburg, where owner Karen Ruck said, “It’s business as usual.”


Tips for shoppers to avoid COVID-19:

• Shop during off-peak hours, usually as soon as they open.

• Order groceries online and have them delivered and use the order ahead and drive-up services.

• Wipe down your shopping cart with disinfectant wipes.

• Avoid crowded aisles.

• If you can, leave the kids at home to limit the number of people in the store.

• As soon as you get home, wash your hands.

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