Last week, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced that Ohio's Stay at Home order will be extended until 11:59 p.m. May 1, with some specific updates that went into effect at 11:59 p.m. April 6.
One of those updates is that the essential businesses who are allowed to remain open must determine and enforce the maximum number of customers allowed in their store at a given time, and make sure that the customers inside — and out — are following safe social distancing requirements.
According to the order, which you can read in full here, "Every store shall prominently display at every entrance the maximum capacity number. Every store shall ensure that baskets, shopping carts and the like are properly cleaned between customers. If a line is present either inside or outside the store, a six-foot distance shall be maintained between those not residing in the same household."
All parts of the Stay at Home order can be enforced by state and local law enforcement, and violations are considered a second degree misdemeanor, which can include a fine of up to $750, 90 days in jail or both.
In line with most other grocery and mega stores, Kroger has announced that starting April 7 it will begin limiting its store capacities. The grocer will cap its shoppers per store at 50 percent of the international building code's calculated amount "further encourage physical distancing," says a release.
"Kroger's introduction of customer capacity limits is one more way we are doing our part to flatten the curve while operating as an essential business, providing our customers with access to fresh, affordable food and products," said Mary Ellen Adcock, Kroger's senior vice president of operations, in the release. "During this national pandemic, we are committed to adopting preventive measures to help protect the safety and health of our associates, customers and communities."
Kroger gave this as an example of the limit: "The standard building capacity for a grocery store is 1 person per 60 square feet. Under Kroger's new reduced capacity limits, the number will be 1 person per 120 square feet."
Kroger will be monitoring the amount of people in its stores using QueVision, a technology that utilizes infrared sensors and predictive analytics. The grocer will also be testing one-way aisles in select locations to further encourage social distancing.
These measures come in addition to Kroger's current plexiglass partitions in front of cashiers at checkout, floor decals to mark six feet intervals and healthy radio messaging in stores.
The company says it has also ordered masks for associates, which it hopes will arrive at all locations by the end of this week. And it is asking associates to take their temperatures before coming to work and to self-isolate if they are feeling sick or experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.
Earlier this week, three employees at Greater Cincinnati Kroger locations tested positive for COVID-19, the union that represents them said.
One of those employees worked in Cincinnati, another in Harrison and a third in Middletown.
The three are on two-week paid sick leave as they recover, according to the union, which represents 30,000 Kroger and other retail employees across Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio.
Kroger has said that its workers' safety is its top concern and that it is taking measures to help prevent the spread of the virus.