Our Coronavirus Response
Our Emergency Response Team, formed in late February to address the COVID-19 crisis, meets online daily to make decisions about how to best serve our communities while doing all we can to ensure the safety of all who walk through our doors. But we wouldn’t be able to do any of it without the folks who work on the front lines every day. They are the heart and soul of our company, and we are profoundly grateful for their extraordinary efforts the past several weeks.
On this page we share what we’re doing to minimize the spread of COVID-19, care for our people and other actions we’ve taken in response to the pandemic. We’ll continue to make more changes as needed and will post updates each week. You can also follow our markets on Facebook for developments. Thank you for your trust in us. We are all in this together, and together we’ll make it through.
Masks required: As per Governor Inslee’s orders, masks or other cloth face coverings are required to be worn in all public spaces as of June 26, 2020. To comply with this mandate and to protect the safety of our employees and customers, we will require all who enter our markets to wear masks or other suitable face coverings. See below for more information.
Personal protection equipment: Our employees are required to wear disposable face masks and eye protection. The only exception is when an employee has a health condition that makes it unsafe for them to wear face coverings. Hundreds of fabric face masks were made for us by community members—thank you!—and we wore them for several weeks, but new rules came from the state recently requiring employees to use disposable masks.
As per Governor Inslee’s orders, effective June 26, 2020, masks will be required when entering public spaces such as stores, offices and restaurants, and outdoors when you cannot maintain a six-foot distance from others.
- Why? Public health experts agree that face coverings are an important tool in preventing COVID-19 and research is showing that widespread use is effective in minimizing community spread of the virus. The more people wear masks, the safer we all are.
- What if I don’t have a mask? If you don’t have a mask, we are happy to give you one. You may also use any cloth covering that can cover your nose and mouth with a couple layers of fabric, such as a bandana or scarf.
- Are there exceptions? Children five years of age or younger are not required to wear a mask. However, it is encouraged to have children ages 3-5 years old wear face coverings. Some people are exempt from wearing a mask due to medical conditions that would make it unsafe for them to do so.
- What should I do if I see someone who isn’t wearing a mask? Nothing. As noted above, some people have health conditions that prevent them from wearing masks safely. We will require all our customers to abide by the governor’s order and wear a mask in our markets but will accommodate those who are exempt due to medical reasons. This is also true of our employees.
- Do I still need to practice social distancing if wearing a mask? Face coverings significantly reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to others but does not eliminate it entirely. So it’s still important to maintain a distance of six feet between yourself and others when in public, even when wearing a mask.
- How can I shop for groceries if I cannot or choose not to wear a mask? We now offer online ordering in our markets, where most of our items are available for delivery or pickup. Visit your market’s link in the ‘Online Ordering’ section below for more information.
You can find more information about this new mask mandate on the Washington Department of Health website here: https://bit.ly/3fV8KTx
Maintaining six feet between yourself and others can be hard to do in a grocery store. While we need to rely on our customers to maintain a safe distance as they shop, we’ve made some changes to make it easier to practice social distancing in our markets:
- Wait lists: We’ve implemented a digital wait list system we can use during our busiest hours (except at Shoreline and Lakemont) to better enable social distancing within the markets. Central Market Shoreline will monitor at the entrance during our busiest times. For our other four markets, go to www.central-market.com on your mobile device (for Poulsbo and Mill Creek) or www.townandcountrymarkets.com (Ballard and Bainbridge). Tap “Get in Line” and you’ll either see “No wait list needed. Come on in!” or “+Add Me.” Enter your name and phone number and voila – you’re in line. You’ll get a text when it’s your turn to shop. If you don’t have a phone, an employee at the door will put your name on the list, then hang out near the entry (maintaining six feet distance between yourself and others please) so you can hear when your name is called. If you’re using a phone, please wait in your car.
- Direction Aisle Markers: One-way markers have been added to help ease crowding and alleviate traffic jams in our aisles.
- Floor decals: We’ll have floor decals to remind our customers to keep a safe distance when waiting in lines. Currently we have tape on the floor at the check stands serving this function.
- Plexiglass: We’ve installed plexiglass shields at our check stands in lieu of having six feet between our customers and checkers.
- No groups: We ask that our customers come to the market with as few people as possible to minimize crowding.
Senior & High-Risk Hours: We’ve set aside specific times for our most vulnerable customers – 60 and older, those with underlying medical issues, pregnant women, etc.
- Ballard Market: 9-11 a.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays
- All other markets: 7-9 a.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays
We started implementing specific safety practices the first week of March and have continued to add to these practices as health department guidelines evolve and new information become available.
- Carts: All shopping carts, hand baskets, children’s carts and motorized shopping carts are wiped down with sanitizers after each use.
- Check stands: Our checkers sanitize all check stand surfaces throughout the day, and the credit/debit card keypads are sanitized between each customer. We’ve also minimized the need to sign for credit card purchases.
- Market wide: Our staff sanitizes high-touch surfaces in all areas of the markets throughout each day, including cooler doors and backroom areas.
- Hand sanitizers: Available for customer use at each entrance and all check stands.
- Mobile hand washing stations: Watch for them at entrances and/or near Produce.
- Gloves: We’ve provided disposable gloves in various areas in the market for customers to use as they shop.
- Personal protection equipment:Our employees are required to wear disposable face masks and eye protection. The only exception is when an employee has a health condition that makes it unsafe for them to wear face coverings. Hundreds of fabric face masks were made for us by community members—thank you!—and we wore them for several weeks, but new rules came from the state recently requiring employees to use disposable masks.
- Samples and cooking demos: Suspended until further notice.
- Self-serve bars and cases: Suspended until further notice. We’re pre-packing many of the items from those bars so you can still enjoy salads, hot food and antipasti at home.
- Bulk foods: Scoop bins and bulk spices are no longer available, and we’ve prepacked many of these items. Ask an employee for what you need. We’ve suspended the use of containers and bags from home.
- Reusable bags: We’ve temporarily suspended the use of reusable bags and are bagging all groceries in unused paper or plastic bags only. We’ve temporarily brought plastic bags back where they’ve been banned and waived the 5-cent fee in those markets.
- Plastic utensils: We’ve swapped out unwrapped, compostable utensils with individually wrapped plastic utensils in our food service areas
- Testers: We’ve removed “testers” for makeup or other Health & Beauty products that are applied on or close to the face.
- Coffee cups: We’re no longer filling reusable coffee cups in our espresso shops on Bainbridge Island and Central Market Poulsbo.
- Catering: We are temporarily suspending orders for our Market Fresh Party Platters and wedding cakes.
The folks who work in our markets are doing extraordinary work. We are profoundly grateful for their commitment and resilience as they serve the essential needs of our communities and keep our markets safe for all. We are doing all we can as a small business to keep them safe and to recognize their extraordinary efforts during this time.
- Appreciation pay: All market staff has received appreciation pay for the month of March and will receive a temporary hourly wage increase until further notice.
- State benefits: We also are pursuing state benefit programs specifically set up for workers in this crisis through Employment Security.
- Staying home: We remind our employees that if they feel ill, they need to stay home and MAY use their sick pay or vacation pay. And we’ve let them know that we fully support and respect any who choose to take a leave of absence during this time.
- Testing positive: With the guidance of local health authorities we have action plans prepared should any of our employees test positive for COVID-19. Any employee mandated by a medical professional or health agency to quarantine because they tested positive for COVID-19 or were in close proximity to someone who tested positive, will receive two weeks of full compensation.
Due to increased demand these past few months, we’ve fast-tracked our online ordering project to get it up and running in all our markets. And now it is! Click the link for your market below for more details.
If you’re nervous about coming into the market (obviously don’t come in if you’re feeling ill or have known exposure to the coronavirus), please call and speak to our pharmacy staff about alternatives for picking up your prescription. 360-779-5335. We’re open our regular hours but these could change without notice, so please check.
Pharmacy hours changed to 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays as of April 2. Weekend hours remain the same (9 am.-6 p.m. Saturdays and 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sundays).