2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Recommendations:
Grocery Stores & Gas Stations
For up to date information on COVID-19 visit health.mesacounty.us
Grocery stores and gas stations are considered critical businesses and not included in stay-at -home orders. This guidance is intended to provide recommendations for this specific industry. This guidance is updated frequently so please check back for the most recent recommendations. For the full stay-at-home order click here.
March 25, 2020
What is Novel Coronavirus?
A novel coronavirus is a new coronavirus that has not been previously identified. The virus causing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), is not the same as the coronaviruses that commonly circulate among humans and cause mild illness, like the common cold. Signs and symptoms of COVID-19 include; fever, cough, and shortness of breath. The incubation period ranges from 2-14 days. There is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for COVID-19. The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person; between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) and through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
General Guidance for Grocery Stores and Gas Stations
- Exclude staff with fever AND respiratory symptoms from work until at least 72 hours after they no longer have a fever or signs of a fever (chills, feeling very warm, flushed appearance, or sweating) without the use of fever-reducing medicine. Ill staff should be separated from others until they can go home.
- Identify individuals who could be at high risk for complications from COVID-19 (those who are older or have underlying health conditions), and consider removing them from situations where they could be in close contact with individuals who may be sick.
- Download COVID-19 posters and CDC Fact Sheets and keep your clients and staff informed about public health recommendations to prevent disease spread and about changes to services that might be related to the outbreak. Messaging may include:
- Posting signs at entrances and in strategic places providing instruction on hand hygiene, respiratory hygiene, and cough/sneeze etiquette.
- Providing educational materials about COVID-19 for non-English speakers, as needed.
- Frequent washing and sanitizing of all food contact surfaces and utensils is key to preventing the spread of COVID-19.
- Food-service workers also must practice frequent hand washing and glove changes before and after preparing food.
- Include frequent cleaning and sanitizing of counters and condiment containers.
- Advise consumers to wash their hands after using serving utensils.
- If possible, use physical barriers to protect staff who will have interactions with clients with unknown infection status (e.g. check-in staff).
- Consult with Mesa County Public Health when deciding to discontinue self-service buffets and salad bars.
Summary of key FDA guidance
- Workers who are in agricultural production, food processing, distribution, retail and food service, and allied industries are considered part of the essential critical infrastructure workforce.
- The U.S. food supply is safe. Currently, there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with the transmission of COVID-19. Foodborne exposure to this virus is not known to be a route of transmission.
- The FDA does not anticipate that food products would need to be recalled or be withdrawn from the market because of COVID-19.
- There are no nationwide shortages of food, although in some cases the inventory of certain foods at your grocery store might be temporarily low before stores can restock.
- See Mesa County Public Health’s Guidance for Businesses and Guidance for Conserving Cleaning Products for more information.
- If you are experiencing issues regarding your supply chain, delivery of goods, or business continuity, please contact the FEMA National Business Emergency Operations Center at NBEOC@fema.dhs.gov. This is a 24/7 operation and they can assist in directing your inquiry to the proper contact.
Before you have a case of COVID-19 in your staff
- Follow these recommendations sent to Kroger and Albertsons by Governor Polis:
- Prioritize providing appropriate gloves, masks, face screens, and other personal protective equipment to the grocery store workers to the extent possible
- Ensure adequate supplies of hand sanitizer and soap at check stands, employee restrooms, store entrances and throughout various departments of grocery stores, including, of course, where food processing and manufacturing operations are performed
- Temporarily establish longer store public hours to disperse traffic, with periodic closures for restocking and cleaning. (E.g. if your normal store hours are 6 am to 9 pm, consider opening 5 am to midnight, and closing 9:30-10:00 am for restocking and cleaning and 8:00-8:30 pm for restocking and cleaning)
- Post emergency hours clearly
- Consider expanding into grocery delivery services, prioritize those at the highest risk
- Provide daily designated time periods for higher-risk individuals to shop, directly after cleaning of the store, without general public crowds
- Establish entrance/access controls to ensure crowds are in compliance with safe social distancing practices as well as basic fire and safety codes;
- Assign those employees with higher health-risks to tasks with lowest exposure risks such as backroom work, receiving, etc.;
- Establish a close relationship with law enforcement, and encourage them to maintain a supportive presence at grocery stores through proactive and frequent, high-visibility patrols.
- Colorado State Patrol is making grocery stores a regular priority for extra patrols and store visits, and are also a response resource to assist local law enforcement when and where needed.
- Consider implementing visual cues, spaced at 6-8 feet apart, for your checkout areas and other places people line up in your store. The translation of the red spaces on the ground in this picture is loosely “Protect yourself and others, keep distance, stand here”.
- Reinforce healthy hygiene practices.
- Ensure your staff is practicing proper handwashing.
- Ensure adequate supplies (e.g., soap, paper towels, hand sanitizer, tissue) to support healthy hygiene practices.
- Intensify cleaning and disinfection efforts.
- Follow Mesa County Public Health’s guidance for conserving cleaning products, linked above, which includes a list of effective EPA-registered disinfectants.
- Routinely clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that are frequently touched, such as carts, card reader machines, and doors for frozen products. Clean with the cleaners typically used. Use all cleaning products according to the directions on the label.
- Provide disposable wipes to staff so that commonly used surfaces (e.g., checkout dividers, keyboards, and touch screens) can be wiped down before use.
- Monitor and plan for absenteeism.
- Review attendance and sick leave policies.
- Constant interaction (before each shift, during the shift and at shifts end) with staff on their health status and the health of anyone with whom they may be in close contact (family members, roommates, etc.).
- Identify critical job functions and positions, and plan for alternative coverage by cross-training staff and faculty.
- Alert local health officials about large increases in staff absenteeism.
- Require sick staff to stay home.
- Establish procedures to ensure staff who become sick (with any illness) at your facility or arrive to work sick are sent home as soon as possible.
- Keep sick individuals separate from healthy individuals until they can leave.
If you have a case of COVID-19 in your staff
- Inform your employees of their possible exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace but maintain confidentiality. Sick employees should follow the CDC’s What to do if you are sick with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Employers should consult with Mesa County Public Health for additional guidance.
- Re-double your cleaning and sanitation efforts to control any risks that might be associated with workers who are ill regardless of the type of virus or bacteria.
- Maintain clean and sanitized facilities and food contact surfaces.
- Consider what public messaging strategies may be necessary to educate your customers in the case of COVID-19 in your staff.
- Follow guidance above for staff considerations and cleaning recommendations.
- Consider cleaning and sanitizing all surfaces frequency touched during use of your self-service gas pumps more often than you usually do.
- To protect your staff, consider only having self-service as the only option for fueling vehicles, and closing the convenience store of the station.
- If the convenience store section of your station remains open, consider only letting in a few customers at a time, and ask others to remain in their car until someone exits the store. Keep in mind that there should be 6 feet of separation between two people at any given time, so the number of patrons in your store will be dependent on that.
Obtain Accurate Information
In rapidly changing health events and outbreaks such as COVID-19, there can be large amounts of incorrect or partially correct information that can add to stress and confusion. Providing current, accurate, and frequent updates can help reduce stress and fear.
Get the most up-to-date and accurate information from:
Adapted from: Federal Drug Administration, Colorado Office of the Governor