Mar 25, 2020 9:15 PM

Kroger releases latest statement on COVID-19

Posted Mar 25, 2020 9:15 PM

HUTCHINSON, Kan. —The parent company of Dillons issued a statement Wednesday afternoon regarding measures it is taking to protect the public and its employees from COVID-19. Kroger is taking steps to allow senior citizens special shopping hours, waving pickup and delivery fees and reducing operating hours.

The statement reads:

The health and well-being of our associates, our customers and our communities is our top priority. As such, we have formed a task force to activate our pandemic preparedness plan and monitor the evolving situation. This work, like all other work we do, is guided by our values and our promise. To that end, we will seek to make decisions that balance the safety of our associates with our commitments to our customers and communities. Preparedness is in our DNA – our store teams regularly manage through severe weather events, for example, and our teams are always well-prepared to be there when our customers need us most. Especially in times of uncertainty, we believe everyone deserves to have access to affordable, fresh food.

Our task force is coordinating organizational activities to help navigate our business through this public health event and quickly activate our COVID-19 preparedness plan. We also continue to partner with and follow guidance from federal, state and local agencies, including the CDC and other health organizations.

Our associates are working to ensure our in-store, free pickup, delivery and ship services are operational and available to customers. Customers may experience longer lead times, delayed deliveries and limited inventory because of local conditions.

We have adjusted store operating hours based on feedback from our local store leaders to best serve our communities. We will continue to make decisions that allow us to operate clean, open and stocked stores to serve our customers and support our associates.

Please note: Hours of operation listed on Google are not correct. This is an issue impacting retailers across the country and not limited to Dillons, Baker’s and Gerbes.

Special Operating Hours for Seniors and High-Risk Populations

We appreciate the concern and care our customers are expressing for senior shoppers and more vulnerable customers. We are currently testing special hours for senior shoppers. We have reserved the first hour of operations (7a-8a: Mondays through Thursdays or the first hour of operations) for seniors (60+ years of age) and other higher-risk customers as defined by CDC guidelines. We encourage all customers to respect this special time as we work to protect our community.

Overall, we are asking our customers be patient, to be kind to one another and our associates, and to shop responsibly and purchase what you need, knowing that we will continue to replenish stores daily with the supplies and products our customers need most. In every decision we make, we are striving to balance the safety of our associates with our commitments to our customers and communities. We have also been inspired to see local communities working together to shop on behalf of seniors and other higher-risk customers.

As we experience unprecedented levels of business, while also looking to support the people in our community who are looking for jobs right now, we have immediate positions available combined across our retail stores, manufacturing plants and distribution centers. Greatest need for newly hired associates are to serve pickup and online shopping needs and order selectors at our distribution centers in Goddard and Hutchinson.

Candidates could be placed for employment within several days of applying:

We want to ensure all our customers have access to in-demand products, we have canceled some promotions and have put limits on product purchases. We are working closely with our suppliers, distribution centers and vendors to replenish our inventories daily.

Our associates are on the frontlines, ensuring Americans have access to the food and products they need during this unprecedented pandemic. We are committed to protecting the health and safety of our associates.

Associates are permitted to wear protective masks and gloves. There is a national shortage of personal protective equipment like this and we fully support America’s healthcare workers having first priority to obtain the equipment they need. We are advocating to government officials at all levels for help securing a priority place in line for all grocery workers - after healthcare workers - to have access to protective masks and gloves.

We continue to enhance our daily sanitation practices, including cleaning commonly used areas more often like cashier stations, self-checkouts, credit card terminals, conveyor belts, food service counters and shelves. Rotations for handwashing for cashiers and courtesy clerks. We are in the process of installing plexiglass shields at many cash registers to further promote physical distancing.

We are taking these steps to protect our customers and associates:

• Cleaning commonly used areas more often, including shopping carts, shopping hand baskets, cashier stations, self-checkouts, credit card terminals, conveyor belts and food service counters, and cleaning shelves when restocking products.

• Sanitizing restrooms more frequently and restocking with supplies, including soap, paper towels and hand sanitizer.

• Adding extra hand sanitizer at cashier stations, food service counters, and all Pharmacy, The Little Clinic and Starbucks locations.

• Installing floor graphics to provide visual cues for physical distancing in the front-end.

• Posting additional signage on front doors, in stores, and on shelves for customers.

• Scheduling rotation for cashiers and courtesy clerks for proper and frequent handwashing.

• Partnering with our suppliers to replenish high-demand preparedness products.

• Continuing to provide our customers with free disinfectant wipes at our store entrances to sanitize their shopping carts or baskets.

• Maintaining industry-leading best practices for safe food handling

• Encouraging our associates to closely monitor their health and well-being.

• Providing hand sanitizer and tissues in breakrooms and meeting rooms.

• Asking our associates to stay home if they, or someone in their household, are sick.

• Providing financial support from our Helping Hands fund – a company-sponsored employee assistance fund – to associates who may be directly affected.

• Sharing Appreciation Pay for frontline grocery store associates, supply chain, manufacturing and customer service associates for a one-time appreciation bonus: $300 for full-time, hourly associates; $150 for part-time, hourly associates.

• Aiding health and wellness with our dedicated employee assistance program.

• Encouraging our customers and associates to follow the CDC’s suggested hygiene practices to reduce the spread of the virus.

• Recommending that our customers also practice safe food handling at home.

• Asking our customers be patient, to be kind to one another and our associates, and to shop responsibly and purchase what you need, knowing that we will continue to replenish stores daily with the supplies and products our customers need most. In every decision we make, we are striving to balance the safety of our associates with our commitments to our customers and communities.

• Asking customers to limit the number of family members in their party, whenever possible, while shopping in stores to assist with social distancing.

Flu activity is also high in the United States and is expected to continue. The Kroger Family of Pharmacies is offering flu shots as well as other vaccinations at more than 2,100 pharmacies and 225 The Little Clinic locations. Flu shots are available for ages two and up, and high-dose flu shots are available for ages 65 and older. We accept walk-ins and flu shots are covered by most insurance providers, including Medicare, resulting in no out-of-pocket costs.

We are encouraging our associates to closely monitor their health and if they exhibit flu-like symptoms (fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue) at work, they should go home and contact their doctor. If an associate has flu-like symptoms at home, they should not come to work.

Kroger has enacted the Emergency Leave Guidelines policy, allowing paid time off for associates diagnosed with COVID-19 and for associates placed under mandatory quarantine by their medical provider because of COVID-19. All eligible associates will receive their standard pay for up to two weeks (14 days). Guidelines have been expanded those guidelines to also cover COVID-19 related self-isolation and symptoms as verified by a healthcare professional.

For those affected by COVID-19, we have also made available additional resources through Kroger’s Helping Hands fund – a company-sponsored fund that provides financial assistance to associates who are experiencing a financial hardship due to an unexpected or emergency situation.