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Complaints Businesses Are Not Keeping Shoppers, Staff Safe During Coronavirus Pandemic

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Complaints continue to come in about businesses that aren't making moves to keep shoppers and staff safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

CBS 2's Tara Molina first reported these issues earlier this week, and she took those concern straight to those businesses and the city.

Many stores are open for a reason, and many people can't avoid a trip to those stores. Many of them are taking proactive measures to keep people safe, reacting quickly when there were issues.

Just days ago, there were two confirmed coronavirus cases in two Target stores. They were deep cleaned and sanitized and are now being cleaned between customers and have enforced social distancing protocols.

CBS 2 saw the same thing in all Walmart stores after two employees from the chain's Evergreen Park location died after contracting the virus.

But with every essential business operating differently, despite guidelines from the city and the state, we continue to hear concerns like Glenda's.

"The store is full. And they're not limiting the number of people who can come inside," said shopper Glenda.

She says she falls into a higher risk group because of her age, so she's taking every safety precaution possible but was disappointed by the lack of them in her home grocery store, the Jewel-Osco on West 87th Street.

"I'm reading about how COVID seems to really hit the black community, so when you go into a store in the African American community you really want to see that at least the stores are doing what they can to make the situation as safe as possible."

Glenda says employees crowded shoppers, weren't wearing gloves while handling produce and didn't encourage social distancing in the aisles or the checkout lines.

CBS 2 took those concerns, and others we've heard about other Jewel-Osco stores in the city, to the company.

A spokesperson said all stores received paper masks for employees. They're encouraged to wear them and gloves. The chain was among the first to install plastic sneeze guards at check stands. That spokesperson went on to say stores are temporarily limiting the number of customers in-store.

Here is their statement, in part:

"Jewel-Osco is following CDC guidelines at all 188 locations by temporarily limiting the number of customers in-store to allow for 6' of social distancing. Signage has been posted and social distancing markers have been placed outside stores. Once maximum occupancy has been reached at a store, an associate will monitor the number of customers entering." 
All stores received paper masks this week for our associates, and they are strongly encouraged to wear them and gloves, if they so choose. The reusable masks are expected to arrive in the coming days.  We have also placed Health Screening Questions signage for customers to review before heading into the store and have asked the same of our associates' and vendors by placing Health Screening Questions signage in-store.

And while that's not what Glenda says she experienced, she said she hopes it changes now.

"I don't know how long this is going to take and when it will be over, but unless we all kick in and all do our part to flatten the curve, it's going to take a long time to happen."

The city's office of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection said stores that do not take steps to encourage social distancing can be subject to fines of up to $10,000. Here is their full statement:

"While we can't confirm specific complaints, we have been proactively reaching out to businesses in Chicago to share social distancing requirements outlined in the Stay at Home Order and Health Department recommendations on operations during COVID-19. Additionally, the Illinois Department of Public Health has put together specific guidance for grocery stores and we have shared our own campaign to provide essential businesses with the information they need as they continue operating. Stores that do not take steps to encourage social distancing can be subject to fines of up to $10,000."

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