Hy-Vee Mandates Face Masks for Employees

Food retailers are increasingly getting behind the push for masks
Hy-Vee has taken numerous pandemic protection measures

Hy-Vee Inc. has become the latest food retailer to mandate the wearing of face masks for its workers as a COVID-19 pandemic protection measure.

The grocer said that all of its store and distribution center employees in the eight states served by Hy-Vee “are now required to wear masks or other facial coverings while at work in response to the evolving coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.” The chain said it has provided the pandemic protection gear to workers “over the past several weeks.” Besides the mask mandate, Hy-Vee has installed plastic protective barriers at checkout lanes, inside store pharmacies and other areas, stepped up sanitizing efforts for carts and checkstand belts, and taken other steps designed to promote pandemic safety.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people wear face masks when in public. Not all states or local governments have issue laws requiring that gear, which can lead to confusion among customers and businesses. Some food retailers have set their own requirements that customers wear face masks, while some grocers have just asked shoppers to do so. Hy-Vee, though, joins other food retailers in mandating that their workers wear the face masks.

A recent example of that comes from Associated Food Stores (AFS). It said it will receive 37,000 masks for distribution to its 400-plus independent member retailers, corporate retail stores and Farr West distribution facility through a partnership with federal agencies and apparel company Hanes. According to AFS, the masks for its workers will arrive at the distribution center in the next few days before being distributed to individual AFS stores. Other retailers to require or recommend the use of face masks among employees or shoppers include Walmart and The Fresh Market, as well as smaller chains Karns Quality Foods and Nugget Markets.

Employee-owned Hy-Vee operates more than 265 retail stores across eight Midwestern states. The West Des Moines, Iowa-based company is No. 12 on Progressive Grocer’s 2019 Super 50 list of the top grocers in the United States.

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