Wegmans Provides a Helping Hand During COVID-19
BROCKPORT, N.Y.- Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease that causes respiratory illness that has symptoms such as cough, fever, tiredness and difficulty breathing.
People can be sick one to two weeks before showing any symptoms. The disease can be serious and even fatal. Older people with other health issues are more at risk of becoming severely ill.
With the increase in cases in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has decided to move all classes online. On March 19th, all SUNY and CUNY classes were moved online for the remainder of the semester.
As of March 20th, in New York State, 100% of non-essential workforces are ordered to stay home and non-essential gatherings.
Stores all over the United States have had to adapt and change into life during the outbreak of COVID-19. Wegmans despite its popularity in the Western New York area is no different and the store is working hard to still be able to accommodate its customers no matter how many per day that may be.
According to a Wegmans employee, Bradley Wagner, 24, the store is changing a lot to still be able to function.
“Wegmans has made quite a few changes in store to ensure safer shopping for customers and a safer work environment for the workers,” Wagner said. “The first change was the store hours. We used to be 24 hours, but we changed the hours to 6 a.m- Midnight then they were changed to 7 a.m-10 p.m,” Wagner said.
In a world where it seems information on this Coronavirus Pandemic is constantly changing every tweet and press conference from President Donald Trump and his medical team, some challenges come with that. Stores such as Wegmans face challenges as they have to change to the ever-adapting circumstances that everyone is living through.
“One of, if not the biggest, challenge, in my opinion, is communication. Communication between Wegmans, its employees, and its customers,” Wagner said. “The store hours where a big one too because one day I was telling people our hours were 6 am-midnight and halfway through the day they changed it to 7 am-10 pm. People call the store and ask stuff about what they see on TV,” Wagner said.
Wegmans grocery stores have put multiple precautionary measures in place in order to keep staff members and customers safe and healthy. Across all Wegmans stores, the new “a cart apart” policy has been proven to be very effective. Customers have been very cooperative with the new changes the store has made.
They have also proven to be very diligent in keeping themselves and others safe by wearing a protective face mask.
Another new safety measure that Wegmans has recently put in place is a clear plexiglass wall that was placed to separate the cashier and the customer.
Safety not only for the customers but for their employees as well as something that Wegmans stores are also taken into account. Not only does that include changing store hours to limit interaction between people but also reconstructing areas in the store like cash registers for example.
“When customers go to cash out they have to stand behind a red line and load the groceries behind it and wait for the cashier to tell them to come forward to pay. And after every customer, the belt that the groceries are on gets cleaned,” Wagner said. “we got plexiglass barriers to put in front and behind the cashiers,” Wagner said.
Cashiers are also told to encourage customers to use the stylus pen rather than directly touching the keypad when they are paying.
With COVID-19 bringing many financial burdens and stress to workers, Wegmans has implemented new plans for their employees. According to the Wegmans website, they are
“Increasing their pay by $2 an hour during the months of March and April… we created a COVID-19 disability paid sick leave. In addition, our paid time off plans are more generous than traditional vacation plans and give our employees the flexibility to use the time how they choose, whether it’s for vacation, sickness, or caring for a family member.”
Brynn Hayes, 19, a Wegmans employee, a Brockport resident, and a SUNY Brockport student. Brynn works within the cheese department and has expressed that Wegmans has been following up with her.
“They are taking this very seriously.” Brynn recently even received a call from Wegmans. “The Wegmans corporate staff was making sure that I was doing okay. I was really surprised to hear from them, and realized how much they value their staff, even a cheese worker.”
Brynn has not been able to work for the past few weeks due to COVID-19. Wegmans has been cutting down its staff’s hours.
“They have limited the store hours a lot. Wegmans never closes, and that is something they take great pride in. So for them to close at midnight is a pretty big deal.”
When asked if the cheese department has had to implement any new safety measures, Hayes said that “the staff has always had to keep their work station extremely clean, and gloves have always been mandatory. So for the cheese department, not much has changed for them.”
As of April 12, Gov. Cuomo issued a bipartisan statement calling for an additional $500 billion in federal aid for U.S states dealing with COVID-19. Cuomo also announced that the state would implement new guidelines for employers. This includes the requirement of face masks to be provided and the expansion of who is eligible to receive an antibody test.
On Easter Sunday, 671 deaths were reported in New York.
The CDC website offers a wide array of valuable information about COVID-19. It offers the public information about symptoms, testing, prevention, how it spreads, social distancing, cloth face covers, travel, how it spreads and much more.