Salisbury-based grocery chain Food Lion hired an additional 5,000 employees over the last week in response to increased demand due to the coronavirus pandemic. It did not clarify which stores added workers. Following the lead of other grocers such as Walmart, Kroger and Publix, Food Lion is installing plexiglass guards at all registers and customer service counters and at pharmacy counters to help prevent the spread of the virus. Construction is expected to be complete within the next week.
“We have placed signage in all our stores to remind customers and associates of the recommended social distancing practice of maintaining a 6-foot distance from others,” said Matt Harakal, manager of external communications for Food Lion, in a press release. “To help with this, we have removed hand baskets and small carts from our stores, and ask that customers use our large carts to shop. As a guide, keeping a distance of two cart lengths apart equates to approximately 6 feet.”
The grocery chain is also designating specific hours of operation for customers who are 60 and older or immunocompromised on Mondays and Wednesdays from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. starting on March 30. Food Lion offers a grocery pickup service at 208 stores and delivery at about 250.
“While we pride ourselves in having clean stores, we have increased the frequency of our cleaning procedures and added even more rigorous practices,” said Meg Ham, president of Food Lion, in an online letter. “Our associates are regularly disinfecting high-touch areas in our stores. We are working to ensure sanitizing wipes are available in stores and encourage you to use them as a precaution.”
Food Lion employs about 68,000 people at more than 1,000 stores in 10 states in the Southeast and mid-Atlantic. It is part of the U.S. division of Zaandam, Netherlands-based Royal Ahold Delhaize Group.