Mayor addresses grocery shopping

Mayor addresses grocery shopping

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer called on grocery shoppers and workers to take preventative steps to avoid COVID-19:

(March 31) As San Diego continues to put into place measures to limit the spread and reduce the effects of COVID-19, Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer was joined today by City Council President Georgette Gómez, United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 135, and Stay Home San Diego – a new organization that delivers food to seniors so they can safely stay indoors – to outline steps grocers, employees and customers can take to keep grocery shopping safe and sanitary. Mayor Faulconer also held a phone meeting earlier in the day with the head of the California Grocers Association to discuss food supply and worker safety.

“Grocery stores and their employees are working harder than ever to meet the demand created by COVID-19,” Mayor Faulconer said. “These workers are on the front lines supporting our city. We’re asking San Diegans to return the gesture by using practices that keep grocery stores safe for customers and employees alike.”

Mayor Faulconer encouraged San Diegans to take the following steps:

• Shoppers and grocery employees should follow physical distancing rules

• Use credit cards or smart phones instead of cash when possible to minimize personal contact

• Stick to as few shoppers as possible – don’t bring the whole family to the store

• Don’t overfill your cart – only shop for what you need.

Mayor Faulconer’s March 16 Executive Order, which he extended yesterday to April 30, lifted time limitations for grocery deliveries in order to help ensure the supply chain moves efficiently.

“I ask all San Diegans to please follow sanitation and social distancing guidelines to keep these workers and our communities healthy. I am also urging Governor Newsom to classify grocery, pharmacy, and other essential retail workers as emergency front line personnel so they can get the additional protections they need,” said Council President Georgette Gómez. “They are taking care of us. We must all do our part to take care of them.”

Mayor Faulconer acknowledged the many grocery stores working to ensure the safety of customers and employees through preventative measures, and encouraged more stores to do the same. Steps some grocery stores have taken include adjusting hours of operation, ensuring check-out line management with physical distancing rules, and reinforcing the importance of sanitation and worker health. Employees should contact their employer immediately upon becoming sick so stores can act and support them with appropriate resources.

“As we grapple with the indefinite ‘stay at home’ public health order from the County, food security concerns are continuing to mount for our residents. We must call for the ongoing cooperation of the public in order to help keep our food service and grocery store employees safe,” said Councilmember Monica Montgomery, chair of the Committee on Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods. “I encourage everyone to wear protective gear if available, and continue to practice social distancing. There is no denying that these are tough times. We will get through this, but it will take all of us doing our part.”

The supply chain is strong, grocery stores remain open, and food and essential supplies remain plentiful, according to grocery industry leaders. Grocers reiterate that truckloads of groceries continue to come from food suppliers steadily, and occasional bare shelves do not indicate lack of supply but rather are a temporary result of consumers overbuying.

“Frontline retail and medical workers are now getting sick,” said Todd Walters, president of United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 135. “We need the community’s help to lower the risk for these essential workers. Please do all you can to maintain social distancing when shopping and visiting healthcare professionals.”

The comments come the day after three grocery store employees were reported to have contracted the coronavirus. Grocery stores have been designated as essential services under the state’s “Stay at Home” order. Stores and employees have been working to keep up with shopper demand, which has increased contact between workers and customers. 

“Grocery store employees are working diligently to keep store shelves stocked, and have also increased the frequency of cleaning to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus,” said Ron Fong, president and CEO of the California Grocers Association. “Shoppers can assist in these efforts to keep themselves, their fellow shoppers, and store employees safe by only visiting the grocery store when it’s essential, and then buy only what you need for one week, or a little more.”

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