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Publix Supermarkets post coronavirus "Let's shop smart" posters.

Publix allows employees to wear masks, implements social distancing

You should see changes at your neighborhood Publix this week.
The company said by email that as of Monday, it changed its policy to allow employees to wear masks and gloves.

Publix employees, who wished to remain anonymous, have sent emails and messages to WINK News regarding concerns over safety. Some of the emails claimed that the company was not allowing employees to wear protective equipment such as N95 masks.

“We changed our policy on gloves and masks yesterday. However, if an associate had a doctor’s note, we would have followed doctors guidance,” wrote Maria Brous, Director of Communications for Publix by email Tuesday.

At stores in Southwest Florida, WINK News employees also noticed visible changes like plexiglass shields at registers and pharmacies on Tuesday.

Signage asking shoppers to stay six feet apart was also present.

Brous declined WINK News request for an on-camera interview with a Publix representative. Instead, she provided the following statement:

“As an essential service provider, the health and well-being of our customers, associates and communities are our top priority.

“We are proud of how our dedicated associates are taking care of our customers and each other through this unprecedented and challenging time. And, we thank our customers for continuing to trust us with providing them with the goods and services they need.

“Like other essential service providers, we have seen our own associates and their families personally impacted by COVID-19. Unfortunately, as public health officials have indicated, we expect to see an increase in cases as the virus spreads in our communities. The testing and reporting of cases by health departments varies widely state-by-state. As a result, we cannot fully and accurately report cases in real-time, but we have been, and will continue to be, keenly focused on intensive, ongoing protective measures in all our stores. Those efforts are conducted with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, local and state health departments and include:

  • A heightened ongoing disinfection program focusing on high-touch surfaces like touchpads, door and drawer handles, phones and computers.
  • Continued cleaning and sanitization of stores.
  • Sanitization of stores with a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 case.
  • Quarantine and paid leave for 14 days for any associate who tests positive for COVID-19 to recover from the illness.
  • Notification, quarantine and paid leave for up to 14 days for associates who have been in close contact with the associate who tests positive for COVID-19.
  • The installation of plexiglass shields at registers, customer service desks and pharmacies in all stores.
  • In-store signage and public address announcements reminding customers and associates of social distancing.
  • Visual reminders of appropriate six-foot spacing via marked lines at registers.
  • Adjusted store hours to allow more time to conduct additional disinfection measures and restock shelves.

“We are working diligently to remind our customers and associates about social distancing. We are currently in the process of installing plexiglass shields at registers, customer service desks and pharmacies companywide. We also have in-store signage and public address announcements reminding customers and associates of social distancing in addition to placing visual reminders of appropriate six-foot spacing via marked lines at registers.”

Reporter:Lauren Sweeney
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