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How Grocery Stores Are Changing Operations, Protecting Employees

Katie Blackley
90.5 WESA
A man searches for frozen meat at the Giant Eagle in Pittsburgh's Brighton Heights neighborhood.

Area grocery stores have increased health and safety measures for employees to help slow the spread of COVID-19. From markers on the floor that signify appropriate social distancing to store hours designated for vulnerable populations, here’s how local stores are adjusting their operations:


  • On Tuesdays and Thursdays, the chain’s 20 locations open their doors at 8:30 a.m. for senior citizens, expectant mothers and individuals with health concerns. 

  • ALDI CEO Jason Hart wrote in a release that the stores are “working diligently to keep our shelves stocked” and “intensifying cleaning practices.” He added that the store will focus on stocking in-demand products, including water, pre-made meals and cleaning supplies.

Whole Foods:

  • To ensure the care of team members, Whole Foods says it has implemented unlimited call-offs for work shifts, given an additional $2/hour to part- and full-time employees,doubled overtime pay, and created shopping hours specifically for employees. It has also increased funds available through its Team Member Emergency Fund.

  • Stores are closing two hours earlier than normal so team members can restock shelves and sanitize.

  • Samples have been suspended and hot bars, salad bars and self-serve counters are closed.

  • The purchase of high-demand items has been limited for customers. 

Trader Joe’s:

  • Store hours have been changed to 9 a.m. - 7 p.m. and an additional check-out line has been created for senior customers from 9 a.m. - 10 a.m. 

  • Cleaning has been increased and food and beverage samples have been suspended. 

Giant Eagle:

  • Plexiglass dividers are being installed at area stores and GetGo locations.

  • Visual markers indicating appropriate social distances have been installed on floors.

  • Guests are asked not to bring reusable bags and the Fuelperks+ program promotion that gave perks per reusable bag has been suspended.

  • High-demand products will be limited.

  • Guests 60 and older, differently-abled, and immune-compromised can shop before other customers, beginning at 6 a.m.

Kuhn’s Quality Foods:

  • According to its Facebook page, the stores will adjust hours and ask customers to check its website for more information.


  • Stores have changed their hours to 7 a.m. - 8:30 p.m. to make sure associates can clean shelves and stock products. The chain also promised to keep “stores stocked and prices fair” and says it won’t engage in price gouging. 

  • Employees who wish to call off must use regular paid time off options. If an employee’s store is within a mandated quarantine area, Walmart will provide up to two weeks of pay and it will not count toward attendance. 

  • Regular eligibility for the Walmart Associates in Critical Need Trust have been temporarily waived for employees who have worked at the store for one year. 

  • All international travel has been restricted for employees.

Save A Lot:

Dollar Tree/Family Dollar:

Dollar General:

  • Seniors and at-risk customers will be prioritized during the stores’ first hour of operation

  • Stores will close an hour early so employees can clean and restock.

  • Paper products, hand sanitizer and wipes will be limited to three per customer.

  • Employees who become sick or must care for a sick family member or partner will be paid for regularly-scheduled hours.

  • All domestic and international travel has been suspended.


Katie Blackley is a digital editor/producer for 90.5 WESA, where she writes, edits and generates both web and on-air content for features and daily broadcast. She's the producer and host of our Good Question! series and podcast. She also covers history and the LGBTQ community. kblackley@wesa.fm
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