Charlie Baker unveils new coronavirus rules for grocery stores

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Gov. Charlie Baker says the flexibility of Massachusetts residents to go to the grocery retailer will stay an “unimpeded right” because the state tries to gradual the unfold of the coronavirus.

But he’s additionally laying down a number of pointers.

The Baker administration issued an order Wednesday on how grocery shops and pharmacies in Massachusetts ought to function within the midst of the pandemic. And whereas it affirms that such companies are “essential and will remain open,” the order additionally imposed new guidelines, together with a statewide ban on reusable luggage in shops and a brief repeal of native plastic bag bans. Boston’s not too long ago established prohibition on single-use plastic luggage was already lifted earlier Wednesday by Mayor Marty Walsh.

The Department of Public Health order additionally bans grocery shops and pharmacies from charging for paper or plastic luggage.

The transfer comes amid considerations that reusable luggage can carry viruses, in addition to elevated lobbying efforts by the plastics trade, as Politico reported Tuesday. But motion has been bipartisan. New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, a fellow Republican, additionally not too long ago issued a brief ban on reusable procuring luggage. And on Wednesday, officers in Cambridge, the primary municipality in Massachusetts to ban single-use plastic luggage, did the identical.

Some of the brand new statewide guidelines Tuesday have already been voluntarily carried out by the shops themselves, similar to unique procuring instances for aged clients, who’ve the very best danger of great sickness or demise as a result of coronavirus. The order Tuesday makes it obligatory for grocery shops and pharmacies to supply not less than an hour every day for under individuals over 60 years previous to buy, which supermarkets throughout the nation had already broadly supplied.

“We also need to make sure we make appropriate accommodations for our most vulnerable residents so they can safely do their shopping for food and supplies,” Baker stated throughout a press convention Wednesday.

The order additionally mandates new precautionary measures — like hand-washing breaks for workers and social-distancing markers at checkout strains — and requires grocery shops to shut free sampling packages and self-serve meals stations, like salad bars.

The new guidelines take impact Wednesday and stay in place till the state of emergency declared by Baker earlier this month is terminated or till the order is rescinded by well being officers. Here’s the total record:

  1.  As indicated within the record of “COVID-19 Essential Services”, grocery shops and pharmacies will stay open.
  2. Grocery shops and pharmacies should present different hours not less than one hour on daily basis for adults 60 years and older as a way to restrict their potential publicity. These hours have to be conspicuously posted and must be enforced by grocery shops and pharmacies.
  3. Grocery shops and pharmacies should deploy methods to scale back COVID-19 publicity for his or her clients and staff together with however not restricted to:
    • Access to handwashing services, together with these out there in public restrooms, and permitting staff adequate break time to scrub palms, as obligatory.
    • Alcohol-based hand sanitizers, as out there.
    • Disinfecting wipes, as out there, at level of entrance for patrons to disinfect carts, at money registers and/or different acceptable areas.
    • Procedures to make sure that each staff and clients stay not less than six ft aside always. Procedures ought to embrace a marked “Social Distancing Line,” which begins six ft away from all checkout counters.
    • Closure of any salad bar or different self-serve ready or different open meals stations.
    • Elimination of any open free samples or tastings.
    • Procedures to sanitize frequent touchpoints all through the day, together with level of sale terminals at registers.
    • Employees who’re sick mustn’t report back to work and if, when reporting to work, they’ve signs of COVID-19 they have to be despatched house.
  4. Grocery shops and pharmacies should accommodate staff who fall inside the higher-risk populations, as outlined by the CDC pointers, with lower-exposure work assignments or permitting them to remain house.
  5. Grocery shops shall be closed to the general public for a adequate time every night to permit for shops to be correctly sanitized and restocked.
  6. Grocery retailer and pharmacy staff shall not carry out bagging of retail merchandise if reusable checkout luggage are used and clients at grocery shops and pharmacies shall not use reusable checkout luggage till additional discover.
  7. Grocery shops and pharmacies, meals banks and emergency meals packages, together with these at present topic to municipal ordinances or rules banning single-use plastic luggage, could select to make use of recyclable paper luggage, compostable plastic luggage or single-use plastic luggage.
  8. Grocery shops and pharmacies could not assess a cost for recyclable paper luggage, compostable plastic luggage or single-use plastic luggage.