Author:ANNE D’INNOCENZIO Associated PressPublished:1:04 AM EDT May 9, 2020Updated:1:04 AM EDT May 9, 2020

NEW YORK — Sandy Jensen’s customer-service job at a Sam’s Club in Fullerton, California, normally involves checking member ID cards at the door and answering questions. But the coronavirus has turned her into a kind of store sheriff.

Now she must confront shoppers who aren’t wearing masks and enforce social distancing measures such as limits on the number of people allowed inside. The efforts sometimes provoke testy customers.


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Why are African Americans disproportionately dying from COVID-19?

Store workers have become enforcers of social distancing rules

The burden is sure to become greater as more businesses in nearly a dozen states start to reopen.

CORONAVIRUS

Author:ANNE D’INNOCENZIO Associated PressPublished:1:04 AM EDT May 9, 2020Updated:1:04 AM EDT May 9, 2020

NEW YORK — Sandy Jensen’s customer-service job at a Sam’s Club in Fullerton, California, normally involves checking member ID cards at the door and answering questions. But the coronavirus has turned her into a kind of store sheriff.

Now she must confront shoppers who aren’t wearing masks and enforce social distancing measures such as limits on the number of people allowed inside. The efforts sometimes provoke testy customers.

Social Distancing Measure May Be Necessary Until 2022

“They are behaving worse now,” Jensen said. “Everybody is on edge. I have hostile members in my face.”

Her frustration is shared by store workers across the country, who are suddenly being asked to enforce the rules that govern shopping during the pandemic, a tension-filled role for which most of them have received little or no training. The burden is sure to become greater as more businesses in nearly a dozen states start to reopen.

Even if a security guard is posted at the store, employees complain they are often left to stand up to defiant shoppers.

“I think that people are pushing back because their freedoms are being controlled,” said Marc Perrone, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, which represents 1.3 million members including grocery workers. “Members don’t feel comfortable trying to corral the customer. Management will take the customer side.”

Store tensions recently resulted in violence in at least two states. A Michigan security officer was fatally shot last week after telling a customer to wear a mask at a Family Dollar store. Two McDonald’s employees in Oklahoma City were shot Wednesday by a customer who was angry that the restaurant’s dining area was closed, police said.

Also in Oklahoma, one city abandoned its mask rule after store clerks were threatened. And at a southern California grocery store called Vons, a man showed up in what looked like a Ku Klux Klan hood. He ignored requests from workers to remove it until he got to the register, according to the supermarket.

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