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Grocery Stores Should Move to an Online-Only Model, Experts Say

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Plus, New Yorkers still can’t get access to unemployment benefits — and more intel

Shoppers wearing surgical masks and latex gloves look at canned items at a Trader Joe’s on April 3, 2020 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.
Shoppers inside a Trader Joe’s in Brooklyn
Photo by Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images

Some experts say grocery stores should move to a delivery and pickup only model

Last week, Cuomo mandated that all New Yorkers should wear face coverings while in crowded spaces like grocery stores and public transit — but some are saying that’s not going far enough to protect frontline workers in grocery stores. CNN Business reports that some national union leaders, public health officials, and labor experts are calling for grocery stores to move to a completely remote model, only offering delivery and curbside pickup, in order to protect grocery staffers and further prevent the spread of COVID-19.

According to the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, at least 30 grocery store workers across the country have died as a result of the novel coronavirus. Thousands more have called out of work after showing probable symptoms of COVID-19.

But not all grocers say that they are equipped to make remote-only adjustments to their business models, and grocery delivery companies are already struggling under the weight of sudden demand. Popular northeastern grocer Trader Joe’s tells CNN that its system is not set up to offer pickup and delivery while still maintaining its current prices. The grocer has been met with widespread criticism for not doing more to protect its staff during the pandemic.

Others are already testing the model out. Whole Foods’s Bryant Park location went online-only last week after previously shutting down the store entirely. The NYC location is one of two Whole Foods shops nationwide that are currently testing an online-only system.

In other news

— Enforcement on New York’s plastic bag ban has been delayed until June 15, due to the pandemic.

— Inside the restaurant coalition Business Interruption Group — led by Thomas Keller, Wolfgang Puck, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, and Daniel Boulud — and its fight to lobby the White House to force insurance companies to give restaurants pandemic coverage.

— New Yorkers are still having trouble accessing the state’s unemployment assistance.

— Local food banks have seen the number of people using their services doubling or tripling over the past few weeks.

— While crime rates are generally down around the city, Greenpoint’s restaurants and bars have recently experienced a spate of burglaries.

— Artists and illustrators across the city have banded together to create a website called Family Meal that has cute illustrated recipes from restaurants across the city. Downloading the recipes also prompts users to donate to the restaurant’s COVID-19-related relief fund.

New Yorker restaurant critic Hannah Goldfield explores fast casual chain Junzi’s new dinner series, “Distance Dining: A Crisis Delivery Pop-Up.”

— Many NYC food trucks are pivoting to feed health care workers and first responders, joining dozens of restaurants across the city that are doing the same.

— Tourist food “museum” the Museum of Ice Cream is now delivering pints of ice cream on Caviar. With each purchase of the $8 pint, the establishment will also send over ice cream to health care workers.

— My eyes are burning:

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