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One-way grocery aisles coming to limit virus spread

Stop & Shop is among the retailers that

Stop & Shop is among the retailers that have limited the number of shoppers in stores, restricted store aisles to one-way traffic and installed Plexiglas barriers at checkout lanes. Credit: Stop & Shop

Stop & Shop, King Kullen, Walmart and other retailers are restricting store aisles to one-way traffic and limiting the number of shoppers in stores as part of social distancing efforts to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.

“Customer counts in each store will be limited to a specific number based upon the square footage of the store. Signs signifying the customer limit will be posted on store doors, and store managers will take regular customer counts to ensure proper capacity is maintained,” Stop & Shop said in a statement Wednesday.  The Quincy, Massachusetts-based grocery chain operates 51 stores on Long Island.

The retailer also will be placing signs at grocery aisles and arrows on floors to direct shoppers in one-way store traffic, the chain said.

Bethpage-based King Kullen Grocery Co. Inc., which has 29 King Kullen supermarkets and five Wild by Nature natural food stores on Long Island, will limit customers on an as-needed basis, spokesman Lloyd Singer said.

“Over the next week, we will implement one-way aisles and any additional measures that may prove beneficial to protecting the health and safety of associates and shoppers,” he said.

The coronavirus is spread most often by an infected person coughing or sneezing, releasing droplets of saliva or mucus to people nearby, typically within 6 feet, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.  The virus also can be transmitted by a person touching a contaminated surface and then touching his eyes, nose or mouth.

For weeks, retailers have been implementing social distancing measures, such as putting tape on floors at checkout lanes to indicate that shoppers in line should stand 6 feet away from each other; installing Plexiglas barriers between cashiers and shoppers in checkout lanes; and eliminating food sampling stations and self-service hot food bars. 

Retailers also have reserved special shopping hours for elderly customers, who are at a higher risk of contracting the virus.

Glen Cove-headquartered specialty grocer North Shore Farms is limiting shoppers to no more than 30 at a time at each of its eight stores -- seven on Long Island and one in Queens, spokesman George Tsiatis said.

Norwalk, Connecticut-based chain Stew Leonard’s is not limiting shopper numbers at its two Long Island stores, but it does have a security department employee at the front door of each store to monitor customer flows, spokeswoman Meghan Bell said.

“So far, the social distancing reminders we’ve placed throughout the store have been working.  We have also removed product displays from the center of the aisle to give customers more room,” she said.

Since Saturday, Walmart has been limiting the number of customers in stores to no more than five per 1,000 square feet of space, Dacona Smith, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Walmart U.S., wrote in a statement Friday.

“We’ll also institute one-way movement through our aisles next week in a number of our stores, using floor markers and direction from associates,” Smith said.

Bentonville, Arkansas-based Walmart Inc. operates 12 Walmarts and one Sam's Club on Long Island.

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