As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to take a toll on the nation, those businesses deemed “essential” are doing what they can to keep their employees and customers safe. Beginning Friday, Gelson’s Markets will require the public to wear masks inside its stores and is updating its customers on its policies, and Smart & Final also is updating its customers on its actions to keep them and employees safe. And in another example of a business switching gears to help out, Kai’s Virgin Vapor is now producing organic hand sanitizer.
Gelson’s to enact mask requirements
Following the recommendation of the CDC for the public to wear masks while outside due to the Covid-19 pandemic, along with recent regulations in various communities in Southern California, Gelson’s will enact mask requirements chain-wide at all its stores beginning Friday, April 10. Company President and CEO Rob McDougall issued a letter to customers updating them on store policy changes.
“While we are providing extra pay and perks to our employees, we must also do everything we can to keep our employees safe as they continue to serve an essential function in the community,” McDougall stated. “We recognize and thank both our employees and our customers for making sacrifices in their daily lives for the collective safety of our neighborhoods.
In this ever-changing environment, Gelson’s has taken many actions in response to the Covid-19 crisis. A summary of its current policies and business changes:
- Effective Friday, April 10, no one may enter Gelson’s without a mask or face covering. This includes employees, all shopper, and vendors.
- No one may enter Gelson’s who is experiencing any symptoms of sickness. This includes fever, shortness of breath, cough, body aches, headache and/or sore throat.
- The hour from 7-8 a.m. is reserved for seniors 60-plus, shoppers with disabilities and those who care for them. Everyone is expected to practice social distancing (6 feet or more from others) wherever possible.
- Expect lines to enter stores, as Gelson’s continues to limit the number of shoppers in its store. Doors are monitored throughout the day, and customers are expected to maintain a 6 foot distance while in line.
- While shopping inside the store, be aware of employees and other shoppers. If you need to pass someone in an aisle, do so quickly. It’s always polite to let others know that you will be passing by. Do not block the aisle with your shopping cart. Keep your cart to one side of an aisle, in front of a section that others are not shopping.
- Do not put your phone near one of our employees to show them a picture of a product you want.
- At checkout, follow the instructions of management and pay attention to the marks on the floor to maintain distancing.
- No returns are accepted, and no CRV containers are accepted, to protect associates. Only glass milk bottles may be returned, as these are needed for the dairies to sanitize and reuse.
- No reusable bags are allowed in the stores. Gelson’s is not charging for the plastic or paper bags used.
- Product limits are currently in place on many high-demand items. This helps to better smooth availability to more customers.
- Employees are required to wash or sanitize their hands every hour. Gelson’s makes announcements reminding employees to protect themselves.
- Employees are cleaning and sanitizing high-touch areas frequently.
- Plexiglass shields are installed at checkstands to better protect our checkers. Customers are asked to stand behind those, and avoid getting close to the bagger/courtesy clerk or the checker. Wait until the checker/courtesy clerk has finished bagging before you approach.
- All seating areas are closed, as well as all self-serve food areas. Gelson’s Kitchens, Bakeries, Sushi Counters and Coffee Bars remain open for their usual take-away service.
- Stores have reduced hours; most close at 8 p.m. (Hollywood, Silver Lake/Los Feliz and West Hollywood close at 9 p.m.).
For customers’ own health during the Covid-19 outbreak, Gelson’s reminds them to be sure to wash their hands often with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds. Avoid touching your face; if you have a reusable/washable face mask, wash it as soon as you return home from an essential outing.
“During these times of uncertainty, we don’t want to overlook that this week marks two of the most important holidays for many of our customers, the celebrations of Passover and Easter. Passover begins this evening, April 8, and marks the journey from slavery to freedom of the Jewish people. Easter is this Sunday, April 12 (or April 19 if you follow the Orthodox calendar). Easter is a celebration of resurrection, and of promises fulfilled,” McDougall stated. “Whether your family celebrates either of these holidays, we can all look forward with hope to a time when we have passed through these dark days, when we can again gather and celebrate in person, recognize and mourn the losses we are experiencing now, and work collectively toward a better future for our cities, our nation, and our world.”
Smart & Final takes additional safety measures during Covid-19 pandemic
Smart & Final has provided an update on its actions to protect the health and wellness of its communities during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Smart & Final says it continues to take every measure to keep its stores fully staffed and stocked and is acting with the health of its associates and customers in mind.
Safety precautions include:
- Currently installing protective plexiglass shields at registers with two 36-inch panels;
- Smart & Final is sourcing disposable safety masks or cotton face coverings, and providing gloves for associates’ comfort and protection;
- Increasing social distancing efforts, inside and outside of stores, through limiting entrance to stores to five people per 1,000 s.f. and the use of decals and signage to designate areas for customers to stand;
Acknowledging their hard-working associates through:
- Closing at 3 p.m. on Easter to give associates the opportunity to spend time with their family;
- Extending the $2.25 per hour premium through April 19;
- Providing salaried managers with a weekly bonus; and
- Sharing notes of gratitude from their customers in a special thank you message from Smart & Final CEO Dave Hirz.
Vape company repurposes to provide hand sanitizer due to Covid-19 crisis
A local Santa Rosa, California, business that has been manufacturing vape juice for use in electronic cigarettes has repurposed a large portion of its facility to produce certified organic hand sanitizer due to the Covid-19 crisis.
“We heard about a local hospital chain that was literally struggling to supply their doctors and nurses with hand sanitizer,” said Annette Rogers, owner of Kai’s Virgin Vapor. “Hand sanitizer is sold out across the country and even major retailers such as Amazon and Walmart are out of stock. People in areas hit hard by the coronavirus aren’t able to find it.”
Kai’s Virgin Vapor has been in business since 2010 and is located in a business park a block from the Santa Rosa airport. Because the company is a certified organic handling facility and already had mixing and bottling equipment on hand, along with 10 years of experience in laboratory quality control, it was able to quickly step in to help with the country wide shortage.
“We went from the idea to producing 300 bottles an hour in less than a week,” said Operations Director Tod Stebbins. “In the 14 days since we started shipping, we’ve shipped hand sanitizer to 43 states around the country to a total of 405 different cities along with England, Japan, Canada and Australia.”
Along with shipping hand sanitizer to customers across the country, the company is donating it to food banks, at-risk children and other worthy causes. For local Santa Rosa residents, it offers free pick up at its facility, as long as customers follow social distancing rules by standing back six feet while the company places the order on a table outside the front door.
Stebbins noted the extreme supply chain shortages he has been battling, with spray bottles and alcohol in short supply and many prices going through the roof.
“Shipping costs have doubled in recent weeks as trucking companies jack up prices to account for the risk to their drivers,” Stebbins said. “In addition, raw materials providers are upping prices or imposing large minimums, but we just keep on fighting.”
The company is offering discounts to businesses purchasing by the case to supply their employees and is scrambling to find other ways to keep costs down.
“We just added gallon and half-gallon refill sizes to help reduce costs,” Stebbins said. “As demand has gone through the roof, it is also enabling us to slowly attain better economies of scale.”
The company says it sold more than 800 bottles of hand sanitizer in the first two hours that it made it available on its website. It also is producing hand sanitizer for the City of Novato, La Tortilla Factory and others to supply field workers who are at particularly high risk.
“We are getting a lot of orders from New York,” Rogers said. “We’ve had several customers call to tell us that despite the great need due to New York being especially hard hit by the virus, they are unable to find hand sanitizer anywhere in the city. We are working with a company in New York to add a quick ship option to get hand sanitizer to people in New York and are working around the clock and through the weekend to keep up with demand.”
You can purchase the company’s USDA organic hand sanitizer on the company’s website or by calling (844) 303-4545.