COVID-19: Gov. Baker Issues Executive Order For Grocery Stores, Pharmacies

BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — In a new executive order released Wednesday, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker is requiring that grocery stores and pharmacies in the Commonwealth take new steps to keep employees and customers safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Grocery stores and pharmacies will remain open, as they constitute "essential services" under the plan that went into effect at noon Tuesday.

But now, they must all offer at least one hour of additional, alternate business hours specifically for those over 60 to shop. Some grocery chains have already provided special shopping times for seniors, who the CDC says are at high risk of contracting the virus.

They must also follow a series of new guidelines on sanitation and social distancing.

Read the full executive order here

Here's a breakdown of what stores and pharmacies will be required to do:

  • Provide at least one hour a day specifically for adults aged 60 and older to shop, in order to limit that high-risk population's exposure to other people
  • Provide hand-washing facilities, hand sanitizers, and disinfecting wipes to customers as available
  • Put procedures in place to keep employees and customers six feet apart at all times—including "social distancing lines" that start six feet from checkout counters
  • Close any salad bars, self-serve and prepared food stations, or other open food areas
  • Stop giving out free samples or tastings
  • Sanitize frequent touch points like sale terminals and registers frequently
  • Accommodate employees who fall under the CDC's definition of the high-risk population by giving them lower-exposure assignments or letting them stay home
  • Close "for a sufficient time each evening" to sanitize and re-stock shelves
  • Not bag groceries or products if a customer uses a reusable bag
  • Not charge for paper bags, compostable bags, or single-use plastic bags

Stores can use single-use plastic bags, recyclable paper bags, or compostable plastic bags, even in places where they have been banned.

In addition, customers can no longer use reusable bags at grocery stores and pharmacies, until further notice.

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