As we head into the cold months of winter, and we spend more time indoors, it is important to continue to do our part to minimize the spread of COVID-19. Right now, Minnesota is seeing a spike in cases. This is putting stress on hospitals and we are seeing shortages of hospital beds. To provide co-op shoppers with the safest experience possible, we have made some changes and improvements to our store operations to facilitate social distancing. Find updates and tips below to help you plan a safe yet efficient co-op shopping trip throughout the winter and holiday seasons.
Grocery stores provide a critical function in our community during a time of crisis, and we are committed to remaining open. We all need to do our part to provide a safe workplace and shopping experience for co-op employees and customers. Our priority is the well-being of employees and community members. Please wear a face covering that completely covers your nose and mouth and practice social distancing in our stores and other public spaces. We ask that you please refrain from eating or drinking while in the store. If you are sick or have any of the symptoms of COVID-19 (sore throat, fever, cough, shortness of breath), please do not visit our stores. Curbside pick-up is an option for individuals who are unable to wear a face covering.
Reserved Shopping Hours
Each day our opening hour—from 8 to 9 a.m.—is reserved for shoppers who are at a higher risk of severe illness by COVID-19, which includes folks aged 65+, essential workers, and those who need to take additional precautions.
Curbside Pick-up is an option that allows shoppers to place an order online and have co-op staff load your groceries into your vehicle. Seward Co-op staff continue to make improvements to enhance your online shopping experience by adding even more products and pickup windows. This is a great option for individuals unable to wear a face covering for any reason. We created this service to ensure all of our customers are able to maintain access to Seward Co-op products, including customers at higher risk. The first daily pickup time (1 p.m. to 2 p.m.) is reserved for shoppers who are at a higher risk of severe illness by COVID-19, which includes people 60 and over, first responders, and those who have compromised immune systems.
Limited Capacity to Social Distance
To aid social distancing we continue to limit the capacity at our stores and dining areas remain closed. We have added additional checkout lanes to help lines move faster and more smoothly. Co-op staff have also remodeled different areas in our stores—like the Franklin Wellness department—to ensure that there is sufficient space for community members to maintain six feet apart from others.
Heated shelters have been built outside the Franklin and Friendship stores, to shield co-op shoppers from the elements when a line is needed outside to maintain social distancing in stores. We’ve been pleased that when a line is needed, it typically moves much faster than the CDC’s definition of ‘close contact’ as being within six feet of another person for at least 15 minutes. The same precautions required inside Seward Co-op stores also apply inside the shelters—face coverings must be worn, and a distance of six feet must be maintained between people. Air vents and exhaust fans have been installed to promote the circulation of fresh air, and the shelter doors will remain open during store hours.
Busy Shopping Hours
Co-op staff informally gathered data to find out which times of the day shoppers are likely to find a line at point of entry to the stores. Each day the first hour of operation—8 to 9 a.m.—remains reserved for shoppers who are at a higher risk of severe illness by COVID-19, which includes older adults and those who have compromised immune systems. Visiting the co-op during the least busy hours—indicated by the lightest shaded areas in the graph—are times when there is typically no queue or a small queue with little to no wait times. Our busiest shopping hours—indicated by the darkest shaded areas in the graph—are times where there have typically been longer queues with wait times averaging between 10 to 15 minutes. We encourage shoppers to follow our co-op shopping tips to help make the co-op shopping trip quicker and more efficient.
Safe In Person Shopping Experience
Wear Face coverings
In compliance with the City of Minneapolis’ Emergency Regulation 2020-13, Minnesota State Executive Order 20-81 and following guidance from the CDC, Seward Community Co-op requires all staff and customers to wear a cloth face covering inside co-op facilities. If you need a mask, please request one from our staff.
- Types of face coverings that are allowed:
Paper or disposable mask, a cloth mask, a neck gaiter, a scarf, a bandanna, or a religious face covering. A face covering must cover the nose and mouth completely. The covering should not be overly tight or restrictive and should feel comfortable to wear.
- Types of face coverings that are not allowed:
Any mask with a valve that is designed to facilitate easy exhaling, mesh masks, or masks with openings, holes, visible gaps in the design or material, or vents. These may allow droplets to be released from the mask.
For the safety of everyone, we ask that masks are kept on and properly worn while in the store. To help slow the spread of COVID-19 the CDC advises that face coverings are worn so that it fully covers your nose and mouth. When face coverings are worn improperly virus particles can spread. Please wait to consume food and drinks until outside the stores. If you are unable to wear a face covering for any reason, please use our Curbside Pickup option.
Stay 6 Ft Apart to Social Distance
It is recommended that people stay at least 6 feet apart in order to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission. While in our store, please be extremely aware of other customers and co-op employees, and maintain six feet of space or more between individuals.
We have installed social distancing aids—as pictured below—on our floors throughout the store including our checkout lanes. These aids are a reminder to maintain 6 feet—about two shopping carts—apart from staff, shoppers and fellow community members.
Co-op Shopping Tips
Here are a few helpful tips to make your next co-op shopping trip smooth, safe and efficient as possible.
1. Please shop alone, rather than with a partner or family.
2. Plan your shopping trips ahead of time with a shopping list. Look to recipes for inspiration and to help inform the quantities needed to nourish yourself and your household.
3. To maximize the efficiency of your shopping trip we have a few helpful tools to navigate and plan your in-person co-op trip.
- View the store maps in our Holiday Guide to locate many popular staples needed to make traditional holiday meals.
- Browse our aisles online by using our Curbside Pickup catalog.
- Find deals throughout the co-op ahead of time on our specials page or find every day deals throughout the store with our Nourish staples list.
4. Proactively communicate with people who are in the space you want to be in, rather than just going near them.
- For example, if an employee is stocking groceries near a product you are seeking, please alert the staff of your needs and allow time for the employee to move away. When in line, try not to crowd, instead allow ample space between yourself and the next person in line.
5. Skip the lines all together by shopping Curbside Pickup for your household, loved ones, or neighbors who may not be able to shop in person.
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Curbside Pickup: Easy and No Contact Co-op Shopping
Seward Co-op staff continue to make improvements to enhance your Curbside Pickup shopping experience by adding even more products and pickup windows. Co-op shoppers choose Curbside Pickup for a number of reasons—primarily to limit exposure to COVID-19 and to make grocery shopping quicker. It is a service designed to offer community members convenience and safety. Each day the 1-2 p.m. pickup time is reserved for first responders, folks 60 and over, and those with compromised immune systems. Please keep Curbside Pickup in mind as an option this winter to access food for yourself and your loved ones in our community.