YUCCA VALLEY — Grocery stores are enforcing stricter social distancing measures amid the coronavirus outbreak.
To stop the spread of the virus, health officials are strongly encouraging the public to practice social distancing, stay home, avoid crowds and refrain from touching one another.
The Grocery Outlet, owned and operated by Kari and Shawn Maloney, keeps customers six feet away at checkouts with markers on the floor.
Cashiers politely ask customers who try to hurry and stand closer to “please stand back.”
Kari Maloney said she, her husband and their team care about the community.
“What we are worried about is filling our shelves,” Maloney said.
The Grocery Outlet has kept customers up-to-date on deliveries and types of food available on their Facebook page.
The social media team also tries to keep upbeat.
“Enjoy your day and stay safe. Hopefully some of you saw that beautiful rainbow in the sky this morning over the mountains,” the Grocery Outlet posted on Facebook Monday.
The Yucca Valley Vons offers hand sanitizer at each checkout station with cashiers dispensing it upon request.
Nationwide, Safeway and Albertsons chains are using markers on the ground to help shoppers stay six feet away from each other.
The two Stater Bros. in Yucca Valley have not added markers to the ground and in recent visits, many shoppers were standing closer together.
Stores throughout the Morongo Basin are receiving shipments daily and stocking their shelves.
Many stores are reducing hours of operations to allow extra time for their workers to clean, sanitize and restock stores
New hours vary from chain to chain: Stater Bros. is reducing to 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Wal-Mart is reducing hours nationwide to 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Stater Bros. stores will open at 7:45 a.m. for customers who are 65 and older, allowing them to shop in a less crowded environment.
“Shop only for your weekly needs … there is not need to hoard,” a recorded message on the Staters phone system tells callers.
“To ensure product availability for all of its customers, there are limits on high-demand items,” Stater Bros. CEO Pete Van Helden said in a released statement.
“The company is working around the clock to get product to our stores as quickly as it becomes available. Be assured that all of our merchandise is being sold at its everyday price.”
David Walsh, of Landers, said he was not taking any health risks as he shopped at one of the Stater Bros. stores in Yucca Valley on March 16. Walsh, a construction worker and self-proclaimed “desert rat,” wore a full gas mask and leather working gloves as he shopped.
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” Walsh cautioned. “Watch out, it’s going to be a monster.”
Shoppers are attempting to keep the safe distances on their own and many are asking fellow customers to stay six feet away if they hurry or get too close.
The world’s top infectious diseases expert said people need to hunker down. They have been warning the public for days that braving crowds for any reason is a gamble and if a trip isn’t essential, you should stay home.
Some people can’t afford to buy the recommended two to three weeks of supplies at once, and they keep returning to stores and running the risk of possible infection.
The Trump administration and grocery industry leaders are telling the American public that the U.S. food supply chain is holding up despite heavy strain amid worries over the coronavirus outbreak, which has cleared out shelves of nonperishable foods, household cleaners and essentials.
During a news conference last week, Trump said grocery firms had urged him to communicate the message to consumers to avoid panic-buying.
“You don’t have to buy so much,” Trump said. “There’s no need for anybody in the country to hoard essential food supplies.”