The nation’s two largest drug store chains have implemented additional preventive measures to protect employees and customers amid the COVID-19 pandemic, including installing plexiglass shields at counters and equipping employees with protective gear.
Walgreens said it will be providing face covers to pharmacy staff and other store associates, as well as employees at distribution centers to help minimize the spread of COVID-19. Also, protective plexiglass shields are currently being installed in Walgreens stores in select markets, and will be installed “as quickly as possible” in all stores chain-wide, the company said. The shields are located at point-of-sale at the pharmacy and front of store.
All Walgreens stores have in-store signage and other markings that begin six feet away from checkout and pharmacy counters, and are spaced in six-foot increments to indicate where customers should stand while waiting.
Additionally, stores have continually increased the frequency of daily cleaning procedures, with additional deep cleaning at all stores. Hand sanitizer for employees, as well as customers, is also being provided.
Rite Aid has implemented specific internal protocols to keep its employees safe and ready to serve customers. In addition to allowing associates to wear masks and gloves at their discretion, the retailer is making enhancements to the many health and safety procedures already in place at its stores.
Rite Aid is installing Plexiglas shields at pharmacy and front end counters to provide additional protection for employees and customers. It has also established social distancing procedures that include marking floor areas in front of the pharmacy and front end counters with tape to ensure 6-ft. separation.
In addition to third-party cleaning providers who professionally clean and sanitize Rite Aid stores, the company has increased the frequency by which its employees clean high-traffic surfaces throughout the day. Stores located in high-outbreak areas are receiving special disinfecting services daily.
In other announcements, Rite Aid said it plans to hire 5,000 associates for full and part-time roles across the country to support store and distribution center teams. Positions will include cashiers, pharmacy technicians and distribution center associates.
The drug store chain has created a “hero program” whereby hourly associates who work in Rite Aid stores, RediClinic locations or distribution centers are receiving an increase of $2 per hour, which began March 15, 2020, and is to last through at least May 2, 2020.
Additionally, current retail store management, including pharmacists, distribution center management and RediClinic professional associates, have received a bonus of $1,000. Rite Aid also increased its associate discount to 35% beginning Tuesday, March 24 until at least the end of April 2020.
Rite Aid has also established specific guidelines related to leaves of absence related to COVID-19 to provide greater flexibility for those impacted by the virus. This includes a “pandemic pay” policy, which ensures associates are compensated if diagnosed with the virus or quarantined because of exposure.
To serve the essential needs of patients, RediClinic, a wholly owned subsidiary of Rite Aid, launched a new telehealth service, RediClinic@Home. The new virtual health program connects patients to RediClinic clinicians through a video chat using a patient’s browser-enabled smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop device.
The company has also established a strict protocol when an associate is confirmed to have tested positive for COVID-19, including closing the store for a comprehensive sanitizing regimen that ensures the store is germ-free before reopening.