CT grocery stores install shields to fight coronavirus spread

April 6, 2020

Luther Turmelle | New Haven Register

The next time you go grocery shopping, don’t be surprised to find a barrier between you and the cashier when you check out.

A growing number of grocery chains have installed clear, plastic shields at their checkout counters in response the spread of the coronavirus. The practice began several weeks ago at some of the major grocery chains that serve Connecticut: Big Y, Stop & Shop and ShopRite.

A spokeswoman with Stop & Shop said the chain has put in place a variety of measures to try to protect both shoppers and employees alike from contracting the coronavirus while grocery shopping.

“We have added signs throughout the stores reminding customers to remain a safe social distance apart,” said Maura O’Brien, a Stop & Shop spokeswoman. “We have installed floor markers at our registers to delineate to customers how far 6 (feet) is from another individual.”

Some supermarkets, such as Trader Joe’s locations in Orange and West Hartford, have periodically limited how many shoppers they let into the store at one time to guard against the spread of the coronavirus. During peak customer periods, some people have had to wait in line outside until customers inside complete their shopping and leave the store.

The use of the clear, plastic shields isn’t limited to large grocery chains. Caraluzzi’s Supermarket, a family-owned chain with stores in Bethel, Newtown and Wilton, also has the shields in place at the cash registers.

But the use of the shields at checkout counters is limited largely to supermarket chains, according to Burt Flickinger, managing director of New York City-based Strategic Resource Group, an industry consulting firm.

“It’s commendable that so many grocery chains are doing it,” Flickinger said. “What surprises me is that you don’t see drugstore chains like Walgreens and CVS doing it.”

Even if the coronavirus subsides over summer, Flickinger said he doesn’t expect the plastic shields to be removed.

“With the predictions that the the virus will return during the colder months later this year, I’m pretty sure they are going to stay in place for a while,” Flickinger said.

luther.turmelle@hearstmediact.com

Luther Turmelle covers business for the New Haven Register and Hearst Connecticut Media as well as the towns of Cheshire and Wallingford. He specializes in covering the utility and energy beats. A graduate of Boston University, Turmelle has held multiple leadership roles in the Society of Professional Journalist, including two terms serving on the organization’s national Board of Directors.