Customers with face masks lined up at Costco in Atwater Village

Customers with face masks lined up at Costco in Atwater Village

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors adopted an emergency ordinance today to protect retail grocery, drug store and food delivery workers in East Los Angeles and portions of L.A County during the coronavirus pandemic.

The emergency ordinance was adopted after similar measures went into effect last Friday in the City of Los Angeles.

Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Janice Hahn championed the ordinance, which requires employers to sanitize and stock bathrooms with necessary supplies, clean stores and shopping carts between uses and provide security to enforce social distancing, among other standards.

"As more guidelines are being placed for first-responders, we must set stricter guidelines for those in the food and grocery sector," Ridley- Thomas said. "Food and grocery stores have become essential in this difficult time, and we do all that we can to support and protect them with the resources we have available, including appropriate protective equipment and policies."

"In the middle of this global health emergency our grocery store, delivery, and drug store workers are now front-line responders," Hahn said. "Their work is essential to keeping our County running and we need to make sure they have the tools they need to do their jobs safely."

The action came after workers at Whole Foods and Instacart walked off the job over health concerns.

"Grocery and pharmacy workers and food delivery drivers have unexpectedly found themselves at the forefront of the coronavirus pandemic, yet stores have not provided sufficient health or safety protections," said John Grant, president of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 770. "We thank Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas for leading the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to implement necessary measures that protect workers who are risking their health to serve their communities."

In the absence of standards, stores have taken a piecemeal approach to safety, with some installing plexiglass shields and protective masks and others leaving employees to fend for themselves.

"These measures will not only protect us -- workers who are in busy stores every day -- but the public across Los Angeles County as well," said Pascual Villa De La Cruz of Albertsons in South LA.

The measure also provide that grocery and drug stores can refuse service to any would-be customer not wearing a face mask.

In addition to brick-and-mortar grocery stores that remain open, many people following stay-at-home orders have turned to online food delivery services. The ordinance also covers shoppers and delivery people for companies like Instacart, DoorDash and Shipt.

The ordinance will take effect immediately and sunset after the coronavirus crisis has passed and emergency orders are lifted.

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