New limit on shoppers inside NJ grocery stores to slow COVID-19
At least two dozen ShopRite stores in New Jersey have begun limiting the number of shoppers allowed inside at one time, as several locations of the grocery chain have confirmed cases of COVID-19 among employees.
ShopRite stores in both Garwood and Old Bridge were among locations to announce the temporary restrictions on their Facebook pages Saturday, explaining "The maximum number of customers will be roughly 30% of the store’s regular maximum occupancy."
Both store locations also have confirmed an associate at each was out on quarantine, after testing positive for the virus.
As of Sunday, New Jersey reported 2,316 additional positive test results for COVID-19, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in NJ to 13,386 — and a total of 61 deaths in the state.
Under the new restrictions aimed at maximizing social distancing, just one store entrance will be opened for operating hours, with a security guard stationed to track the number of customers entering, according to the announcement.
Once a participating store is at capacity, "we will ask customers to begin to queue in the designated line," ShopRite of Somerset said, adding "Please be patient and kind to one another."
The temporary limits on store capacity were announced by Village Super Market, which owns and operates 25 ShopRites across NJ at the following locations:
- East Orange
- English Creek (section of Egg Harbor Township)
- Landis (Vineland)
- Greater Morristown
- Old Bridge
- Rio Grande
- Somers Point
- West Orange
The latest shopping restrictions come as a planned strike by workers of a leading grocery delivery and personal shopping service could cause further chaos for New Jersey residents looking to secure fresh supplies.
Instacart, which delivers and prepares pickup orders at grocery stores including ShopRite, Costco, Wegmans, Acme, Aldi and The Food Emporium across New Jersey, is faced with a call from its workers to supply basic protective equipment, including hand sanitizer, soap and gloves.
"They are putting us directly in harm’s way while profiting greatly. We cannot let this be considered normal," according to a March 27 post on Medium.com co-signed by Instacart Shopper and the Gig Workers Collective. The collective also asks for the company to meet the following terms:
- An extra $5 per order as "hazard pay"
- Defaulting the in-app tip amount to at least 10% of the order total.
- An extension (beyond April 8) of pay for workers impacted by COVID-19
- Expanding sick leave for COVID-19 to include workers with pre-existing conditions
By Sunday evening, comments on social media urged customers to cancel orders set for Monday, March 30, in support of the Instacart worker nationwide strike, which also urging individual workers not to take orders.
Those who work for Instacart as shoppers sign on as independent contractors, which has been disputed in California court as a misclassification, as reported in February by the Los Angeles Times.