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The next time you go out to stock up on supplies, you may run into something new at the checkout line: a plexiglass panel.
In an effort to prevent the potential spread of the coronavirus, grocers across the country are installing plexiglass guards at checkout registers to keep their customers and employees safe and help them practice social distancing.
America's largest supermarket chain, Kroger -- which includes such brands as Ralph's, Harris Teeter and QFC -- said Tuesday it will add sneeze guards at checkout lines. Floor decals indicating spots for "social distancing" will also be put in place in the more than 2,700 Kroger's stores.
Walmart said Wednesday it is installing sneeze guards at Walmart and Sam's Club pharmacy lanes and that it will roll out guards at regular Walmart registers in the next three weeks.
Publix and New England's Shaw's are doing the same, both companies said Wednesday.
The Pittsburgh-based food, pharmacy and fuel retailer Giant Eagle told FOX Business on Wednesday that it will add the plexiglass guards to each register and customer service counter across its more than 470 stores and fuel locations throughout western Pennsylvania, north central Ohio, northern West Virginia, Maryland and Indiana by Friday.
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The nation's second-largest grocery chain, Albertsons Companies announced plans last week for its more than 2,200 stores to add the plexiglass guards.
"As an added precaution during the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, Albertsons Companies is installing Plexiglas in its checkout lanes as a protective barrier between customers and checkers," the company said. "The Plexiglas 'sneeze guards' will be installed in the company's 2,200+ stores over the next two weeks, with many locations being complete in the next several days."
"This is an extra step to protect our associates who are in constant contact with the public and provide our customers with extra reassurance as well," Albertsons President & CEO Vivek Sankaran said.
A spokeswoman for Stop & Shop told the Boston Herald that the 415 store chain will also install clear plastic guards at their pharmacy checkout counters.
"We're asking that customers please stand behind the clear plastic guards until all groceries have been scanned and payment is complete," a statement from Stop & Shop read. "Because the register area doesn't allow for the cashier and customer to maintain a distance of 6 feet apart per CDC guidelines, plastic guards have been added for protection."
Two Missouri-based grocery store chains, Dierbergs and Schnucks, said they would install barriers this week, according to KCTV.
Dierbergs called the plexiglass an added safety measure to go "above and beyond." The 25-store company expects to have the plexiglass in all stores by Tuesday. In addition, the store is sanitizing conveyor belts, credit card terminals, door handles, self-checkouts and cashier stations.
Beyond the checkout lines, Schnucks is adding temporary plexiglass to its pharmacy and customer service counters at its 100 stores.
"While it is easier to practice social distancing in our aisles and other areas of the store, it can be more challenging at our checkout lanes and service counters," said Schnucks senior communications specialist Paul Simon to Quad City Times. "This added level of protection provides additional safety for our teammates and customers. We will continue to evaluate protective measures as the situation evolves."
They expect to have the barriers up in all stores by March 30.
This is the latest move by grocers to accommodate their employees and customers amid the coronavirus pandemic. In addition to the barriers, a growing list of stores have offered cash bonuses to their employees currently working during the pandemic and are hiring more workers to meet customer demand.
Grocers are also adding special shopping hours for their elderly customers to give them extra time to stock up on supplies they might need.