CHICAGO — While dozens of convenience-store chains over the past week have begun taking action to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in their stores, many c-store operators may feel lost or confused in creating their own emergency plan to fight the virus.
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Here are five actions c-store operators can take in their stores and communities …
Nearly every c-store chain that is working to combat the spread of COVID-19 has enhanced its sanitization and cleaning efforts. It includes increasing the frequency of cleaning all touch points of the store, including countertops, gas pumps, coffee stations, food merchandisers, lottery machines and ATMs, coolers, kitchen equipment and more. It also means requiring employees—especially those who handle food—to wear protective gear such as rubber gloves.
Multiple c-store chains, including 7-Eleven, Pilot Co. and Kwik Trip, have halted self-serve food and beverage options in their stores, including items from roller grills, coffee bars, soda fountains, condiment bars, soup bars, bakery cases and more. Chains are requiring clerks or foodservice staff to serve these items to customers instead of patrons grabbing them themselves.
Beyond halting self-serve foodservice, various chains have also discontinued the use of reusable cups and are resorting to disposable options for the foreseeable future.
Some retailers have sought out educational methods regarding the virus and how to prevent infection. For example, 7-Eleven has begun displaying recommended hygiene posters from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in high-traffic areas in stores to inform employees and customers about proper personal sanitation.
Social distancing for employees
Social distancing is essential in preventing the spread of COVID-19, and operators have told employees to stay home if they feel ill or show symptoms. Multiple operators have offered their employees additional paid time off, free COVID-19 testing and other compensation and benefits.
Various chains have implemented new delivery promotions to keep business afloat during social distancing. 7-Eleven’s new delivery option allows customers to indicate if they prefer their delivery “contactless,” meaning the delivery is left at the door by the driver, while Kwik Trip has waived all delivery fees for orders made via EatStreet, a third-party delivery option.