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Shoprite Group rolls out new social distancing and hygiene measures

  • Staff Writer: Edward West

Shoprite Group, the biggest food retailer in Africa, had rolled out new social distancing and hygiene measures, including temperature testing and mobile clinics for its employees to help ensure its stores remained safe during the Covid-19 pandemic, the group said.

This comes as competitor Pick n Pay also upped hygiene measures at its stores, with the countrywide introduction of perspex screens at all Pick n Pay till points.

As of Friday, the transparent screens – mounted at the Pick n Pay till and situated between cashiers and customers – had been installed in more than 300 stores and were being rolled out to all stores.

Most supermarkets already have mandatory social distancing and hygiene measures in place, such as social distancing floor markers in aisles, service areas and queues, and the availability of hand sanitisers.

Shoprite chief executive Pieter Engelbrecht said in a statement there would be daily temperature testing as employees arrived at work. 

The roll out of mobile clinics followed the issuing of plastic face shields for employees last week and stringent hygiene and sanitising protocols in place across all of its stores, distribution centres and offices to keep the shopping virus-free.

Those with high temperatures would visit the group’s mobile clinics for a consultation and, if necessary, would be referred for further testing. Employees of merchandising, security and cleaning companies would also undergo temperature scanning.

The group has rolled out four clinics at its Brackenfell, Canelands, Centurion and Cilmor distribution centres, five mobile clinics in Gauteng and four in the Western Cape.

A further eight mobile clinics would be deployed in the coming week to reach KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo and the Free State. Mobile clinics would be allocated to densely populated areas and areas where state clinics were under tremendous pressure.

“We continue to take proactive steps to protect our employees and customers while we provide an essential service to supply food,” said Engelbrecht.

Since the virus arrived in the country strict hygiene and sanitising practices had already been implemented across the group’s operations. 

For example, customers were asked to make use of the disinfectant spray bottles when entering stores and at till points and sanitary wipes were provided at store entrances for use on hands and trolley and basket handles.

Quick entry and speedy check out for all healthcare and law enforcement personnel were prioritised, and dedicated till points were allocated for elderly and vulnerable people.

Meanwhile, the South Africa Food Sovereignty Campaign suggested yesterday that because of the likelihood that many people would not be able to buy enough food through the lockdown, every supermarket chain should set up a “people’s pantry” in every store for consumers to donate a bag of groceries, medical and other essential goods.

These supermarkets should work with the government to ensure the food reached food stressed communities, the organisation said.