Plus, more on the latest safety measures at five other grocery stores.

Karla Walsh
September 02, 2020
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Supermarket safety measures have been a moving target since March in an attempt to keep staff and shoppers as safe as possible. This past weekend, many Publix stores—which are mainly based in Florida and other states in the Southeast—began pulling up floor stickers and store signs that marked one-way aisle traffic flows.

According to a statement the supermarket retailer gave to the Tampa Bay Times, Publix is eliminating the one-way aisle policy launched in April at all stores unless a local mandate trumps the relaxed rules.

"We implemented one-way aisles at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic to help our customers understand and practice social distancing, and over time it has become widely understood and adopted into our routines," per a statement from company spokesperson Maria Brous.

Although some reports claim that shoppers have ignored these one-way rules for the most part and staff weren't enforcing the directional guidelines, several other retailers still have these recommendations in place (more on that below). Publix reps explained that the effectiveness of this strategy had been questionable, customers didn't like the rule and people were catching onto the idea of spacing safely on their own.

Similarly, in May, Giant supermarkets eliminated one-way aisle signs after customers complained it made their shopping trips too long. Some brands and states are allowing reusable bags again and others are introducing modified sampling programs.

Distance-measuring decals, audio announcements and signs will still suggest 6 feet or more of distancing between Publix shoppers, but unlike most other supermarkets, the retailer now has no directional rules or capacity limits. (Publix never set a company-wide mandate on the maximum shopper amount.) As of July 21, all customers are required to wear facial coverings.

Here's an update on the current safety measures at a handful of other major retailers:

  • Aldi: Staff and shoppers must wear masks. The store also has one-way aisles, capacity limits, plexiglass shields at checkout lanes and distancing stickers on the floor.
  • Target: Staff and shoppers must wear masks. The store also has capacity limits, plexiglass shields at checkout lanes and distancing stickers on the floor.
  • Trader Joe's: Staff and shoppers must wear masks. The store also has one-way aisles, capacity limits with 6-foot markers outside the store for the entrance line, plexiglass shields at checkout lanes, distancing stickers on the floor and isn't allowing reusable bags.
  • Whole Foods Market: Staff and shoppers must wear masks. The store also has capacity limits, plexiglass shields at checkout lanes, distancing stickers on the floor, no self-serve stations or sampling and no indoor or outdoor café seating available.
  • Walmart: Stores have a single entrance to limit capacity to 20% (5 customers per 1,000 square feet). Plus, staff and shoppers must wear masks and there are one-way aisles, plexiglass shields at checkout lanes and distancing stickers on the floor.

Wherever you plan to shop, wear a face mask at all times (as long as you don't have any health issues that might prevent you from doing so), touch as little as possible, shop as quickly and efficiently as possible and be kind and show gratitude to the staff who are working on the front lines.

The situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to change quickly; it's possible that information or data has changed since publication. While EatingWell is trying to keep our stories as up-to-date as possible, we also encourage readers to stay informed on news and recommendations by using the CDCWHO and their local public health department as resources.