As we continue to evaluate our COVID-19 response, the health and safety of our customers and team members remains our top priority and greatest responsibility. During the pandemic, we were proud to be named the top retailer for COVID-19 health and safety measures three times in a row, according to Consumer Health and Safety Index studies conducted by Ipsos.
Updates to our COVID-19 protocols will be made cautiously, conservatively and in phases – with safety at the heart of every single decision. As always, we will comply with all city, state and federal laws, and follow the guidance of health authorities.
Here’s what we’re currently doing in our stores to protect our customers and team members:
Updating Our Mask Guidance: Customers who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 are welcome in many store locations without a mask. Unvaccinated customers, as well as those in areas where transmission is high are asked to continue to wear masks indoors. Masks are still required in stores with a government mandate, for all U.K. Team Members, for any Team Members in locations where there is a “substantial” or “high” transmission rate, and for any Team Member who has not provided proof of vaccination to the company.
Increased Cleanliness: We continue to practice enhanced cleanliness and sanitation protocols across all stores and facilities, on top of our standard stringent protocols. We also have increased the location and number of hand sanitizer stations available for use by shoppers and team members – including for shopping carts / baskets and at checkout stations.
Encouraging Team Member Vaccinations: We are strongly encouraging all of our Team Members to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. U.S. and Canadian hourly Team Members who receive their COVID-19 vaccine and provide their proof of vaccination to the company will receive $40 / 50 CAD for each dose – or up to $80 / 100 CAD of additional pay.
Expanded Delivery and Pickup Options: For those who prefer to shop online, we continue to offer one-hour grocery pickup at all of our U.S. stores, and two-hour delivery in more than 5,000 cities and towns. Visit your local store page for information about pickup and/or delivery availability.
Social Distancing: We are operating under social distancing guidelines in our stores and facilities, ensuring that interaction among team members and between team members and customers can happen at the recommended distance. We have installed signage throughout our stores, both inside and outside, to remind everyone about practicing social distancing.
Plexiglass Barriers: Many of our stores continue to have plexiglass barriers in certain checkout lanes to protect customers and team members.
Prepared Foods / Hot Bars: Many locations have reopened previously closed self-serve offerings, and indoor and outdoor café seating areas in compliance with local regulations. Where allowed, these areas have reopened with a combination of enhanced cleaning and sanitation measures, social distancing protocols and, in some cases, conversion from self-serve to a team member-assisted service model.
Food Sampling and Food Demos: In July, all stores will resume food sampling and food demos where there are no mandates or restrictions in place.
Supporting Team Members affected by COVID: All team members placed into quarantine or diagnosed with COVID-19 will receive up to an additional two weeks of paid time off, as announced by our parent company, Amazon. Like our full-time team members, all part-time team members are eligible to accrue paid time off, which can be used at their discretion. Also, we have added to our Team Member Emergency Fund, which is available to all team members faced with an unforeseeable emergency or critical situation. Amazon has committed an additional $1.6M to support the fund, bringing the total to $3.34M. All additional donations to the fund will be matched 100% by Whole Foods Market.