AMHERST, N.Y. (WKBW-TV) — Tops and Wegmans have implemented several health safety procedures during the COVID-19 pandemic to keep customers and shoppers safe. With only a little more than two weeks to go until Thanksgiving, the supermarket chains are adding new efforts because areas around Buffalo are seeing a coronavirus surge.
"We know this is going to be a holiday season unlike any we have seen before," said Michele Mehaffy, consumer affairs manager for Wegmans.
The stores tell 7 Eyewitness New reporter Ed Reilly that existing health safety protocols in place for the pandemic are proving effective; those include hand sanitizing stations, mask requirements, Plexiglas shields at checkouts, and teams of workers deep-cleaning touch-points throughout the day.
More safety procedures are coming for the rush of holiday shoppers.
-Tops is putting into service a sanitizing spray fogger for shopping carts. The device can quickly cover shopping carts with a disinfectant that kills germs within one minute It is now being put into service at 42 Tops stores after previously being tested.
-Thanksgiving baking goods are moved to the front of Tops stores so holiday bakers can get in-and-out quicker.
-Tops for the first time is selling gift cards online. "That way you can order it safely from the comfort of your home. Another touch-less option," explained Tops spokesperson Kathy Sautter
-Tops is adding more cashiers for the holidays to minimize lines and wait times in the stores.
-More self-checkout lanes have been added with touch-less payment options.
-Tops is urging people to avoid holiday shopping crowds. "Don't wait until the last minute to come shopping. Don't wait for Thanksgiving week," added Kathy Sautter.
-Frozen turkeys are now sorted in freezers by weight so customers can find the one they need quicker. The goal is to stop shoppers from handling the turkeys as they search for the one they need. In addition, workers will be available to lift the frozen turkeys into carts - again to minimize touching by multiple people.
-Wegmans is adding live webcams to its busiest stores so shoppers can see how crowded a particular store is before going.
-Wegmans is encouraging people to shop alone or in small numbers as the supermarket is keeping a count of how many people are in its stores and will limit access to maintain a 20% capacity level.
-You may find different brands in Wegmans than what you are used to seeing. Spokesperson Michele Mehaffy said the stores have reached out to different suppliers during the pandemic to make sure hard-to-find products (like some paper and cleaning products) are in stock.
-Purchase limits could be implemented on products if they become hard to keep in stock. "We are asking customers to only buy what they need," said Mehaffy.
Both Tops and Wegmans are urging shoppers to use apps that allow you to shop and pay quicker inside the stores.
The stores are also reminding customers that curbside and home delivery is still available - with completely cooked Thanksgiving dinners available for purchase if ordered by deadlines (see store websites for details).