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Whole Foods Now Checking Temperatures of Employees

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An example of what a handheld, non-contact infrared thermometer, or “temperature gun” looks like in action. Photo: AP

Whole Foods Market has instituted a policy that sees all employees having their temperatures taken before they start their shifts.  If employees have a temperature higher than 100.4 degrees, they are asked to go home.  Grocery store employees are also asked to wear masks throughout there shifts.

A grocer who works at a Whole Foods in San Francisco confirmed the new COVID screening practices this week.  He said that his store gives their employees a “daily safety briefing”, as well as “provides temperature checks and masks before starting a shift.”  For more on Whole Foods Safety policies visit their site.

Forehead thermometers like this one are used to take temperatures without physical contact at Whole Food Stores.

COVID-19 has disproportionately effected front line workers over the past month.  Reports coming from Meat Packing Plants across America and Canada this week showed hundreds of workers testing positive for COVID.  The largest grocery store worker union in America announced that 30 UFCW members have died from COVID-19, and nearly 3,000 UFCW food and grocery workers have been directly impacted by COVID-19, meaning they got sick or had to stop working because of the pandemic.

In a survey conducted by UFCW, unionized grocery workers said that 85% of grocery customers are ‘not practicing social distancing’, When surveyed on what grocery stores should do to improve the safety and treatment of workers, 72% said ‘limit the number of customers in stores’.  You can see the entire UFCW survey here.

New social distancing guidelines and crowd regulations cause lines outside of supermarkets. Photo Alex Mak, San Francisco

Although an elevated temperature is not a perfect system for identifying COVID infections, a fever and dry cough are the most common symptoms associated with the virus.  Temperature taking of suspected COVID carriers has become government policy in places like China where the outbreak began in January 2019. It is widely disputed how effective this screening is because we still know so little about coronavirus.

This new screening tecnique, or others like it. may become commonplace in public spaces before a more comprehensive test is invented.  The Walt Disney Company Chairman Bob Iger suggested in an interview this week, that in future there may be a temperature check before you can enter Disney World.  He compared temperature screenings to the bag checks that theme parks and other public facilities began after the 9/11.

One way grocery aisles. Photo source, Mercury News

A Whole Foods employee in San Francisco told us this week that crowd limitations and ‘one-way’ aisles do a great job in helping grocery store employees keep order in their stores.  With less crowds inside the stores, workers can re-stock shelves more efficiently as well as check out customers without violating social distancing guidelines.

Employees from Trader Joe’s and Safeway/Albertsons told us this week that employees are given verbal health checks before beginning work, they are asked a series of questions about their health before their shifts begin.  Masks and gloves are also becoming standard issue across grocery chains, and you may have noticed new crowd control measures within stores as well.

Whole Foods and Safeway have also given all employees $2-$3/ raises for the month of April, while Trader has also instituted a bonus system for employees working during the pandemic.

The rules and sanitation standards in our grocery stores are continually being updated during COVID-19.  Knowing your store’s rules and safety practices will help you stay safe while shopping, and help keep our grocery store workers healthy while they work to keep us supplied.  We interviewed grocery store workers from Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, & Albertsons/Safeway, and other independent grocers around the Bay Area about the new safety standards for employees, as well what they would like shoppers to know before coming to the store you can find that here:

How to Behave in Grocery Stores According to Grocery Workers.

For new store hours, and safety policies go to store website directly before you visit:

Trader Joe’s
Rainbow Grocery
Grocery Outlet

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Alex Mak - Managing Editor

Alex Mak - Managing Editor

I'm the managing editor and co-owner of this little expiriment. I enjoy covering Bay Area News as well as writing about Arts, Culture & Nightlife.

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