County Health Officer Dr. Travis Gayles today announced that beginning Monday, April 13, shoppers will be required to wear face coverings in grocery stores, pharmacies, and large chain retail establishments. The health order also requires that these retailers establish capacity limits by allowing a small number of customers in the store at a time. Lines outside a store must promote physical distancing spaces for customers while waiting. “We are working on many fronts to slow the spread of COVID-19. Protecting shoppers and store employees is critical,” said Gayles.
Masks are not advised for children under two years of age, or for people who have difficulty breathing. Masks made for use in health care settings, such as N95 masks, should be reserved for health care workers. Cloth masks are an acceptable alternative for face coverings.
These retail stores are required to provide employees with access to clean restrooms stocked with soap and sanitizer. They must allow employees to wash their hands at least every 30 minutes. Employees must be allowed to wear masks or face coverings.
In addition, the order requires that these stores comply with existing state and local sanitation requirements and statutes. Any complaints will be investigated according to standard protocols and policy. Violators are subject to a $500 fine, and a $750 fine for each subsequent violation.
Other safety measures aimed at protecting workers and shoppers include implementing physical distancing measures for workers, customers, and visitors. Appropriate signage and markings to reinforce social distancing and spacing must be displayed. Businesses who use shared equipment, such as baskets or hand carts, are encouraged to provide sanitation equipment such as disinfectant wipes or alcohol swabs, for individual use. Businesses are also encouraged to install clear physical barriers between cashiers and customers, where possible.
County Executive Marc Elrich had the following response to the order. “In these uncertain times, we all need to protect ourselves and each other. That‘s why I fully support the County health order requiring people wear face coverings in grocery stores, pharmacies, and large chain retail establishments. The health order also requires retailers to limit the number of people in a store at one time. My mask protects you. Your mask protects me. Together, with physical distancing, we can stop the spread.”