ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The truckstops and travel centers that make up NATSO's membership are well-positioned to serve professional drivers during the COVID-19 pandemic, the association said. It confirmed that its members remain open and continue to serve drivers as they transport goods and supplies. They also continue to provide food, fuel and other essential amenities needed by drivers.
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"Truck drivers are depending on truckstops and travel centers as they deliver food and life-saving supplies. Our members are committed to doing their part during the nation's response to this emergency," said Lisa Mullings, president and CEO of Alexandria, Va.-based NATSO. "As the nation confronts the coronavirus outbreak, the country's travel centers and truckstops are committed to remaining open and serving America's drivers. Fuel retailers are 'essential' businesses that must remain open even if other 'nonessential' businesses are forced to close."
Although some states have ordered the closing of dine-in restaurants, travel centers and truckstops offer many food options, including quick-service food and grab-and-go options. Even where restaurants are prohibited from offering sit-down table service, travel centers are converting those restaurants to allow for take-out options.
"In these difficult times, it is essential that the American people can count on the nation's professional truck drivers to continue delivering food and other essential products to communities throughout the country," Mullings said. "The truckstop and travel center industry is committed to continuing to play the important role of feeding and fueling truck drivers."
NATSO provided some ideas for retailers to consider to keep their businesses running:
- Let customers know everything you’re doing to keep them safe. Use e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, company websites and posted messages to communicate that their health and the health of employees is a priority.
- Offer curbside or parking lot pickup.
- Tell customers you prefer cashless payments. If you have card readers that enable “tap to pay,” put up signs to encourage customers to use it and other forms of contactless payments (but some cities and states have prohibited the practice of requiring cashless payments, so just make the suggestion).
- Replace regular menus with paper menus. Use disposable plates, cups and utensils.
- Suspend use of customers’ personal cups and require fresh, disposable cups.
- Close drivers’ lounges, game rooms or other places where people congregate.
- Eliminate in-store dining.
- Eliminate self-service grab-and-go food, buffets, soup and salad bars.
- Add “doorpersons” so customers can avoid touching doors or prop open doors if weather permits.
- Consider limiting hours of operation. This can give employees time to restock shelves and thoroughly clean and disinfect. Remember to communicate the new hours and explain that these steps are for safely and to better serve customers.
- Provide disposable gloves to employees.
- Set up hand sanitizer stations near entrances.
- Thoroughly clean and sanitize locations frequently throughout the day. Don’t forget fuel pump handles and digital screens.
- Consider helping the community by selling products you may not normally carry, such as cases of water, large-count toilet paper, gallons of bleach, large containers of hand sanitizer, etc. This will help relieve the stress being placed on traditional retailers and ease the minds of panicked shoppers.
- If weather and state emergency directives permit, consider offering outdoor seating.
- Be vigilant about ensuring that employees who feel sick stay home.