We Asked Local Groceries About Their Mask Policies. Here's Each Store's Response. | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon
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We Asked Local Groceries About Their Mask Policies. Here's Each Store's Response. 

With local health departments recommending mask wearing, we wanted to know where local grocery stores stand

How is your local grocery store helping protect its workers? We wanted to find out.

On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began recommending that all Americans wear cloth masks to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. And on Monday, the health departments in Crook, Deschutes and Jefferson counties affirmed that, recommending that all locals wear a mask when they're in public. Not an N95 or surgical mask that can be used by health care workers on the front lines, mind you—but a cloth mask you make yourself or obtain from a crafty buddy with sewing skills. (The CDC also offers a list of ways to make a mask from anything from t-shirts to bandanas.)

  • Anna Schvets, Pexels

But with grocery workers coming into contact with so many people every day, local nurses we talked to wanted to be sure cashiers and other workers are protected, too. So how well are local grocery stores adhering to guidelines? We called each one Monday to find out.

Here's our list of Bend-area grocery store mask policies.

Employees may wear masks if they choose to do so. Currently in the process of sourcing disposable masks and will make them available to in stores and distribution centers as soon as they are available. Sanitizer and wipes are available to customers, and Plexiglass shields have been installed in all checkout lanes as protective barriers from others. Social distancing is strongly encouraged, with rigorous cleaning routines put into place (applies to all locations).

C.E. Lovejoy's Brookswood Market
Requiring gloves and masks be worn by all employees, which are provided. Plexiglass sneeze guards were installed at check stands and social distancing marks at registers were also implemented in late March. An outdoor hand washing station was installed April 3rd. Sanitizing wipes are provided for customers. Extra cleaning measures are taken wherever possible. Special senior shopping hour on Wednesdays from 8-9am (prior to store opening).

Central Oregon Locavore Indoor Farmers Market
All employees and volunteers are required to wear masks, which they are provided with. Social distancing is enforced by social distancing officer who stands outside the store, regulating number of people that may enter the store at a time. The decision is still in the works of how many shoppers can enter the store at a time, however currently it is five. Hand washing is strongly enforced for employees, and there are cleaning wipes available to shoppers to wipe down their carts with. Rigorous cleaning routines have also been put into place.

Employees are strongly urged, but not required to wear masks, which they are provided with. Employees are required to wear gloves and social distancing is strongly enforced (applies to all locations).

Food 4 Less
Requiring gloves and masks be worn by all employees, which are provided. If workers have their own masks, they can wear their own masks if they prefer. Requiring all checkers and front end staff wash their hands and change their gloves every 30 minutes. Installed plexiglass dividers at every check stand. Sanitizing the entire store constantly and throughout the day. Hired new staff whose sole task is to rigorously clean and sanitize store wide as well as to pick online orders. Customer hand washing station and cart wipes at the entrance and multiple hand sanitizer units throughout the store. (Correction: A previous version of this story listed Food 4 Less among Kroger stores; that was incorrect. Bend's Food 4 Less is a locally owned store.

Fred Meyer/Kroger
Employees are encouraged to wear masks and gloves, and social distancing is encouraged, with plexiglass shields installed at registers (applies to all locations).

Grocery Outlet
No mask policy, but is enforcing social distancing and requires employees to wear gloves (applies to all locations).

Market of Choice
Employees are provided with masks but aren’t required to wear them. They are also provided with gloves but are required to wear those.

Natural Grocers
Employees may wear masks if they own one, and are strongly encouraged to wash hands and wear gloves. However, the store is not able to provide employees with masks due to the lack of resources, so some employees who own masks may wear them to work while many others do not. Currently, the store is quickly working towards providing all employees with masks.

Newport Avenue Market
Employees are provided with and are required to wear masks and gloves, and are required to wash hands and change gloves at least every 30 minutes. Social distancing is enforced. Sanitizing wipes are provided for customers.

Employees are provided with masks and gloves. Social distancing is enforced, monitoring the number of customers in store at once, limiting numbers. Proper hygiene is also enforced, with plexiglass partitions at cash registers, signs encouraging customers to stand 6 feet apart when in line, and rigorous cleaning routines (applies to all locations).

Trader Joe’s
Employees are strongly urged, but not required to wear masks, which they are provided with. Social distancing is also strongly enforced, only allowing 25 people in store at a time. When customers tend to cluster in one aisle, they are reminded by employees to keep their distance from others.

Employees are strongly urged, but not required to wear masks, and are provided with gloves (applies to all locations). 

Whole Foods Market
Employees are strongly urged, but not required to wear masks, which they are provided with. Proper hygiene and social distancing are strongly enforced (applies to all locations).

Update: 4/7, 6pm: A reader here pointed out that the United Food and Commercial Workers Union has been working on furthering protections for grocery workers in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here's a March 18 statement from President Dan Clay and Secretary-Treasurer Jeff Anderson of the UFCW Local555, which represents workers in Oregon and southwest Washington:

"Since COVID hit Oregon and Washington, UFCW 555 has been working to expand access to paid leave for members, increase paid leave banks from employers, and maintain healthcare benefits for those who cannot work because they are immunocompromised or care for others who are immunocompromised.

"More importantly, we have been working in both Oregon, Washington and also Federally to get First Responder protections for Grocery Workers who are facing COVID-19 just like traditional first responders such as police and firefighters. First Responder protections would prioritize Grocery Workers for things like COVID-19 testing, protective gear, and other needed financial assistance."

Regular updates on worker protections are available on the UCFW Local555 Facebook page

See all our Coronavirus coverage at our Coronavirus HQ.

-Student intern Miina McCown is a total rockstar and is managing to continue her internship during a global pandemic. She did the research for this story.

About The Authors

Miina McCown

Intern, Source Weekly

Nicole Vulcan

Nicole Vulcan has been editor of the Source since 2016. While the pandemic reduced "hobbies" to "aspirations," you can mostly find her raising chickens, walking dogs, riding all the bikes and attempting to turn a high desert scrap of land into a permaculture oasis. (Progress: slow.)
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