New guidelines issued for Mass. grocery stores as Market Basket employee tests positive for coronavirus

MEDFORD, MASS. (WHDH) - Gov. Charlie Baker and the Department of Public Health issued new grocery store guidelines aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus on Wednesday, the same day Market Basket announced that one of its associates had tested positive.

During a press conference on Wednesday, Baker declared a ban on reusable shopping bags.

“Grocery store and pharmacy employees shall not perform bagging of retail products if reusable checkout bags are used and customers at grocery stores and pharmacies shall not use reusable checkout bags until further notice,” according to the order of the commissioner of the DPH.

Grocery stores, pharmacies, food banks, and emergency food programs will no longer be prohibited from using single-use plastic bags.

Stores will not be allowed to charge customers for recyclable paper bags, compostable plastic bags or single-use plastic bags.

Pharmacies and stores must also provide at least one hour of shopping each day that’s dedicated to adults over the age of 60, in addition to offering an array of sanitation options. In addition, appropriate social distancing policies must be enforced.

The announcement of this order came just before Market Basket reported that an employee at their Chelmsford store tested positive for the coronavirus.

The associate last worked at the store at East Gate Plaza on March 15, Market Basket spokeswoman Justine Griffin said. They are said to be recovering at home.

Baker says these new measures are there to help employees who have been working endlessly.

He instructs workers to stay home if they are not feeling well and requests that stores accommodate those who fall into the at-risk category by giving them alternative assignments with less exposure.

A local workers union is pleased with recent guidelines given to Massachusetts grocery stores on social distancing but wants more restrictions in place.

Stop & Shop workers would like the governor to impose a limit on the number of shoppers that can be allowed to be in a store at one time.

The order will remain in effect until Baker terminates the state of emergency.

There are now 2,417 confirmed coronavirus cases in Massachusetts, up from 1,838 cases on Tuesday, health officials announced Wednesday. Twenty-five deaths have been reported.

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