Grocery stores adjusting to new COVID-19 crowd restrictions

Business News

NARRAGANSETT, R.I. (WPRI) — New restrictions limiting the number of shoppers in stores that remain open during the pandemic is requiring some store owners and management to do some self-policing.

Lines snaking around buildings with customers spaced 6 feet apart has become the new normal at stores across the state, including Roch’s Fresh Foods in Narragansett.

“Everyone is cool with it. Everyone knows, ‘Hey look, let’s stay in line, let’s keep our distance and we can get through this,'” Vice President of Roch’s Fresh Foods Zach Roch said.

On Friday, a Roch’s employee was greeting customers at the front door and limiting the number of people allowed inside.

Gov. Gina Raimondo warned of sporadic spot checks to ensure businesses are complying with the mandate, and for Roch’s, theirs was Thursday.

Roch said the Narragansett Fire Department stopped by and determined that, based on their size, only seven people are allowed inside at a time.

The Department of Business Regulation is mandating stores have 20% customer capacity, keep customers 6 feet apart and have employees outside the building to count people entering and exiting.

Earlier this week, Raimondo warned stores that if they’re caught not complying with the new mandate, there will be penalties.

“If we find that you’re not complying then I’m going to have to do something more extreme: emergency regulations, greater penalties, closing more stores,” Raimondo said.

Police departments across the state have all reported that most stores are doing a great job of enforcing the mandate on their own.

Departments in Providence and Coventry, for example, tell Eyewitness News they haven’t received any complaints since the mandate was implemented.

Police in Warwick tell Eyewitness News their department receives roughly one call per day, but by the time officers get to the store, management has already resolved the issue.

Roch’s Market is now offering home delivery services to its customers.

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