Stepping up measures aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus in the city, Mayor Sandy Stimpson has further cut back on the number of shoppers allowed in big-box stores at one time.
After initially including grocery stores and cutting the number to 40 percent of a store’s estimated fire capacity, Stimpson announced at a press conference Monday, April 6 the acceptable capacity would be cut in half for retailers like Walmart, Costco, Lowe’s, Home Depot and Target. For now, Stimpson said grocery stores like Publix, Greer’s and Winn-Dixie can continue to operate at 40 percent capacity.
Speaking to reporters, Stimpson said he made the decision to take further action on the store capacity issue after meeting with retail managers and hearing from the public. Overall, however, he said he was pleased with how everyone seems to be adjusting to the new regulations.
“I really believe all our stores — grocery stores and big boxes — are doing everything they have to do to make sure you stay safe and healthy,” he said. “I am tremendously grateful for that.”
Jan Endfinger, a spokeswoman for local grocery chain Greer’s, said the stores in Mobile and Baldwin counties were handling the restrictions and had no complaints.
“We’re always focused on loving people, serving people and caring about people,” she said. “More so now than ever.”
Greer’s worked with the city’s fire-rescue department to find what it called the “emergency capacity” for each store, Endfinger said. At the Greer’s CashSaver on Dauphin Street that number was 218, according to a sign posted above the entrance.
“We don’t get close to capacity, ever,” she said. “It’s not a problem for us.”
The Winn-Dixie at Government and Catherine streets in Midtown did not have a listed emergency capacity, but an employee by the entrance kept count of customers as they walked in on the first day of the new regulations.
Walmart at the Beltline made the most drastic changes, leaving only one entrance of the huge store open to customers and snaking shoppers through a line of yellow tape, as employees counted them.
The Midtown Publix also had an employee at its front entrance. A sign on the window of the store let customers know the occupancy had dropped from 1,367 to 523.
For the grocery stores unaffected by the most recent changes in the regulations, Stimpson said his office took the building’s square footage and divided it by 75 to come up with the emergency capacity.
Like many of the other stores, Endfinger said Greer’s was also complying with the order by putting tape down to let customers know where to stand in order to stay six feet apart, especially at the checkout stand.
“For the most part, customers are abiding by that,” she said.
Online shopping is going well at Greer’s, Endfinger said. In Fairhope, the Greer’s liquor store is now online, as are the Old Bay Market in Theodore and the Orange Beach stores.
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