Opinion: To curb COVID-19 spread, grocery stores should limit to online shopping only

Grocery workers are considered essential during this time. Their health and safety should be prioritized by encouraging online shopping and curbside pick-up.



People wait at the door before 8 a.m. for Target in Milltown to open as the coronavirus spreads thoughout New Jersey. Friday, Mar. 13, 2020. (TNS)

Hannah Pinski, Opinions Columnist

It is no surprise that one of the main reasons to leave the house during social distancing is for groceries. Many retail grocery stores across the nation such as Target, Walmart, and Whole Foods offer delivery or curbside pick up to accommodate the shelter-in-place orders that a majority of states have set in place.

However, most stores are allowing customers to come in and shop as they normally would, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any consequences. Many people who shop aren’t following guidelines to help stop the spread of COVID-19 such as wearing gloves, masks, and limiting the amount of people needed to shop. According to David Brown from USA Today, “UFCW, a food and retail union that represents over 900,000 grocery workers, surveyed 5,000 of its clients, and 85% said customers are not practicing social distancing.”

Because of the lack of social distancing, many workers have gotten sick and even died from the virus. To help stop the spread and protect workers, grocery stores should transition into online shopping only where customers can only pick up or have their items delivered.

In another quote from Brown, “At least 30 supermarket employees have died as a result of COVID-19, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) said in a release on Monday. Another 3,000 have called out of work after showing signs of illness or other possible coronavirus-related complications.” If grocery stores do not make a full transition to online shopping, the spread of the virus will continue to grow because people are not using social distancing guidelines while they shop in stores.

Even though workers at the register will not be needed, there are still plenty of other jobs that they can do such as adding in more personal shoppers, supply stockers, and deliverers. With a transition for online only shopping, it will be safer for the workers as well because it will limit unnecessary contact with customers.

In addition, online only shopping will also be safer for local communities as it will limit interaction with community members which adheres to the social distancing guidelines.

Since many states have not reached their peak of cases yet, such as Illinois and Iowa, it is important that communities can do whatever they can to flatten the curve and lower the projected peak. Allowing customers to shop in stores will only increase the vulnerability to workers as well as leading to a spike in the amount of cases and even deaths.

If America ever wants to be able to return to school, sporting events, or host social gatherings, it is important that we take whatever measures we can to help stop the spread of COVID-19.