Health officials recommend limited trips to the grocery store, local retailers limit number of customers

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) — National and local health officials recommend people limit trips to the grocery store and pharmacies to help reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus.

U.S. Department of Health and Social Services says avoiding trips to the grocery stores in the coming weeks is crucial in slowing down what they think could be the peak of the coronavirus.

Fred Meyer announced new safety measures Tuesday, adopting customer capacity limits to encourage physical distancing in stores.

According to a statement from the Fred Meyer corporate office, beginning Tuesday, the retailer will limit the number of customers to 50% of any store's international building code calculated capacity — an average of one person per 120 square feet according to Fred Meyer.

Stores will monitor the number of customers per square foot through QueVision, a queue management customer surveillance program, which is already used to provide a count of customers entering and exiting stores.

Fred Meyer has also implemented additional measures to promote physical distancing, including plexiglass partitions, educational floor decals, and in-store radio reminders to practice good hygiene and practice spatial awareness.

Here in Anchorage, Dimond Costco General Manager Bob Ripley says the Dimond location is only operating half its cash registers and placed limits on the number of people allowed in the store.

Ripley says foot traffic at Costco has slowed down since the initial rush in March due to the outbreak of novel coronavirus.

He credits 'hunker down' mandates from local and state officials which he says has led to a spike in Instacart orders, a delivery service that Costco uses.

Monday morning on the Today Show, Assistant Secretary for Health at the U.S. Dept. of Health and Social Services Brett Giroir explained the department's recommendation:

"Whether you live in small-town America or you live in the Big Apple, everyone is susceptible to this. Even though we say this is going to be the peak, if we let our foot off the gas and start doing ill-advised things, we could have another peak."

KTUU reached out to several other grocery chains but did not hear back before the deadline for this story.

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