Wegmans is making some additional changes in response to the coronavirus – but some feel the changes are coming too late.
"Unfortunately, Wegmans told many workers, if not all of them, ‘We do not want you to wear masks on the job, and, in fact, if you want to wear a mask to work, we're going to send you home. And if you don't have paid time off, you will have to be at home unpaid.’ And this is just unacceptable," said Monroe County Legislator Rachel Barnhart.
Barnhart urged Wegmans to allow its employees to wear PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), so they can protect themselves from catching COVID-19.
"People should have the right to protect themselves in a pandemic and that includes retail workers who are out there on the front line, making sure that we have the necessities to get through this," said Barnhart.
Now, Wegmans is making changes.
The company released a statement Thursday, saying:
"I am so glad that Wegmans has reconsidered this policy, even if it comes a little too late. There's no question that Wegmans is lagging behind major retailers around the country who are already allowing personal protective equipment," said Barnhart.
Wegmans is also increasing its sanitation procedures and installing plexiglass shields at the front end registers and pharmacies. A sign posted ouside the company's Webster location is also asking customers to stay at least six feet from one another or one full shopping cart length. A full list of safety measures can be found on the company website.
The role Wegmans plays in Western New York is significant, especially now. And its customers are loyal.
"They always have everything I need when I come in here, other than toilet paper, I can’t complain," said Jim Hart of Greece.
"I think they’re doing a really great job and it’s different depending on which Wegmans you go to, but they are doing a good job,” said Chotsani Whitt of Greece.
"Wegmans is our area's third largest employer,” said Barnhart. “It is a beloved company that does so much for this community, but because it plays such a large role in our community, it owes us transparency and it has to protect workers.
"The bottom line is, we don't know who has COVID-19, we aren't doing widespread testing. So retail workers should have the right to wear personal protective equipment to keep themselves safe in a pandemic.”