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“With stay-at-home orders in place, customers have generated unprecedented demand for grocery delivery," a spokesperson for Whole Foods Market said. "As we navigate the challenges associated with COVID-19, we continue to find ways to increase delivery availability while navigating safety measures and social distancing.”
So far, the company has converted five stores in its New York City (Bryant Park), San Francisco (SOMA), Baltimore, Austin, Texas, and Castle Rock, Colorado, locations. Additionally, Whole Foods will shut the doors of its DePaul store in Chicago and convert it to online delivery only effective Wednesday at 4 p.m. central time.
The San Francisco store is still partially serving customers who want to shop in-store from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Pacific time. Shoppers with increased risk to the coronavirus can visit the store one hour prior to opening. The stores in Austin, Castle Rock and Baltimore are brand-new stores that converted to the online-only model before ever opening to the public.
According to the spokesperson, the online-only conversions are only temporary.
"These extensions increase our total investment in pay during COVID-19 to nearly $800 million for our hourly employees and partners," the company said. "We continue to see heavy demand during this difficult time and the team is doing incredible work for our customers and the community."
The company says it will also provide more flexibility with leave-of-absence options, including expanding its policy covering COVID-19-related circumstances, such as high-risk individuals or school closures.
The news comes as a group of state attorney generals are calling on Amazon to provide updates for coronavirus health and safety precautions it has put into place for both workers at its warehouses and Whole Foods stores after multiple Whole Foods workers and Amazon warehouse workers have tested positive for the coronavirus.
The company says it has made over 150 process updates to protect its employees, from "enhanced cleaning and social distancing measures to new efforts like disinfectant spraying." To date, the company has provided more than 100 million masks, more than 2,200 handwashing stations, an additional 34 million gloves, 48 million ounces of hand sanitizer and 93 million sanitizing spray and wipes. Over 5,7000 janitorial staff members have been added to increase cleaning at facilities and more than 31,000 thermometers and more than 1,100 thermal cameras have been procured for employee temperature screenings.