Kroger shares post-coronavirus 'blueprint' for businesses to reopen

The guidance offers best practices on how to keep employees and customers safe.

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Kroger, the country’s largest grocery chain, had to learn quickly in order to keep its essential employees and customers safe throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Stores limited how many customers could enter at a time. The company stepped up cleaning procedures and added barriers between cashiers and customers in checkout lanes. Kroger has about 2,800 stores, 35 manufacturing plants, 44 distribution centers and about 460,000 employees, and its role as a food retailer meant they were essential and needed to keep working.

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Now the Cincinnati-based company is sharing what it learned in “A Blueprint for Businesses,” a guide of best practices for businesses to reopen after temporarily closing due to the virus.

“Our stores are at the center of our communities and face a higher rate of exposure than most Americans. But as an essential business, we’ve learned how to operate safe and open environments in retail stores, food production facilities, and distribution centers,” Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen said in a note accompanying the guide.

An employee pushes grocery carts outside a Kroger Co. grocery store in Louisville, Kentucky. (Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

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While Kroger is a grocery chain, the company said its recommendations could easily be applied for other retail, manufacturing, food supply chain and distribution, restaurants and offices.

The recommendations include educating employees and customers with guides, messages and signage ⁠— Kroger also made generic signs available for download online — about CDC hygiene recommendations, encouraging physical distancing, stepping up cleaning and sanitation, encouraging employees to use personal protective equipment and monitoring employee health with temperature checks and revising paid time off options for sick workers, among others. The full “blueprint” is available online.

Kroger released free signs for other businesses to use to promote safety amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Kroger)

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The signs include notices asking customers to distance themselves in line, to use one-way aisles and directing them toward order pickup areas.

McMullen said Kroger would continue to update the guidance as the pandemic continues and shifts.

"We share our learnings with the same spirit that many business leaders from around the world have generously shared their experiences with our company, which helped us anticipate the steps we needed to take to provide a safe environment for our associates and customers," he said. "We know that we don't, and we won't, have all the answers – no one business or organization will. It will take all of us sharing openly the ingenuity that has always been the heart of American free enterprise to get through this, together, allowing America to come out stronger."

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