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Customers may be OK with latest guidelines


With the debut Thursday morning of supermarket chain Market Basket's new policy of limiting the number of customers in a store at one time, a line formed outside the store in Nashua's Somerset Plaza. Customers said the lines moved fast, and few had to wait more than a few minutes. Telegraph photo by DEAN SHALHOUP

NASHUA — Several customers ready to shop at Market Basket’s Somerset Plaza store Thursday morning chatted through masks with their fellow shoppers, expressing at one point their relief at how fast the line they were in was moving.

With a pair of youthful employees wearing bright orange vests directing traffic in and out of the only open set of doors, Market Basket’s latest experiment in social distancing appeared to go smoothly, at least at the Somerset Plaza store.

Once inside, shoppers noticed black tape had been put in place to guide shoppers along areas that until now featured shopping carts converging in several different directions at once.

As the floor tiles happen to be 12 inches by 12 inches, employees cleverly posted cards on the floor advising customers to “please stay six tiles apart” to be in compliance with the six-foot social distancing rule.

A representative of the Tewksbury, Massachusetts based supermarket chain said the management, which more than a week ago set aside the first hour of each day for shoppers 60 and older, “is now taking additional steps to ensure a healthy and safe shopping experience for both shoppers and associates.”

All of Market Basket’s 79 stores in Massachusetts and New Hampshire — and the one in Biddeford, Maine — began observing the new safety measures Thursday.

The goal, officials said, is to make it easier for folks to practice social distancing by limiting the number of customers in the stores at one time.

“We have been constantly refining our operations focused on the health and safety of our customers and associates,” Operations Supervisor Joseph Schmidt said in a statement issued Thursday.

“These changes reflect the wide range of input we have received on a daily basis – from our customers and our associates and from the Governors and public health experts who describe the next several weeks as critical for the health of the residents in our region. It is important that our customers have a pleasant, safe, and healthy experience in our stores.”

Aside from limiting the number of customers shopping based on a store’s size, the new healthy shopping protocol will also include a single entrance and exit designated for customers’ to use. Additionally, upon entering a store, an associate will greet shoppers and clean and sanitize a carriage for them.

While social distancing is in place, associates are also required to practice good hygiene, including frequent hand washing. In addition, the chain’s heightened disinfection program focuses on high-touch surfaces, which include cash registers, counter tops, register belts, red baskets, shopping carriages, payment devices, touch pads, desks, door and drawer handles, phones and computers.


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