Minnesota Grocers Association recommends shoppers wear masks when at stores

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The Minnesota Grocers Association (MGA) is suggesting a new safety measure for people who still prefer to shop in-person.

Wednesday, the industry group recommended that shoppers wear a face-covering of some sort before entering a grocery store. The move acknowledged there are people in public places who don’t.

A visit to several grocery stores Wednesday revealed some shoppers who "masked up" and made sure their noses and mouths were covered by a bandana, cloth or scarf to keep germs from getting out into common airspace.

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"This has been a challenging time for the industry. Those front end workers are essential we’re doing everything we can to get food to neighbors, but they aren’t necessarily trained to be front end workers," said Jamie Pfuhl, President of MGA.

Heading into a grocery store in Prospect Park, Louise Middendorf was seen wearing a mask.

"Me wearing a mask protects you from me and you wearing a mask protects me from you," she said.

The MGA points out shoppers aren’t required to wear a mask, but it’s recommended and the new safety step isn’t a substitute for social distancing.

"I try and follow the six-foot protocol and not stay too close if someone is uncovered," said shopper, Kelby Wagner.

Ben Schultes, the vice president of finance for Jerry’s said one of its stores, in Edina, is requiring all employees to wear company-provided face masks going forward. And as more supplies become available, Jerry’s will roll out the same policy at other locations.

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"When store staff see their customers, neighbors, giving the same respect back, it sends a nice message, it’s important, it helps and it’s for the well-being of all of us," said Pfuhl.

The statewide suggestion follows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendation earlier in April that everyone wears a mask in public.

The food industry reported because of individuals worried about exposure in stores, online grocery sales are up 37% this month over April of last year.