Two Masks Is the New Mask
Progressive Grocer|February 2021
What retailers need to know about PPE, sanitation and COVID-19 in 2021.
Gina Acosta
If 2020 was the year of masking and sanitation, then 2021 is promising to be the year of double-masking and double-sanitation.

Despite large-scale optimism that the availability of vaccines will end or at least greatly curtail the pandemic, many retailers and suppliers say that the need for personal protective equipment (PPE) and sanitation protocols hasn’t diminished, and is, in fact, more critical now than in 2020.

“With the newly discovered ‘variant’ strains of COVID-19, as well as the expanding ‘COVID-19 fatigue,’ it is more important than ever to continually reinforce the policies and procedures that have been established for operating under COVID-19 protocols,” asserts Michael Stigers, CEO of Eden Prairie, Minn.-based Cub Foods. “All of the learned protocols and practices will be in place for the foreseeable future. This is a multiyear, if not a multigenerational, experience.”

Stigers may be right about that “multigenerational experience.”

While the United States has been vaccinating nearly 1 million people a day, new, more contagious strains of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 have led to more global surges in cases. In late January, one of the vaccine makers, Moderna, said that it was “not sure” whether its vaccine would be able to fight off all of the new strains, and revealed that it would test an additional booster dose of its vaccine (which would now require three shots instead of two) to strengthen the immune response against emerging strains, especially the South African variant.

Shortly before that development, Europe, which has been a pandemic harbinger, began to tighten PPE and sanitation regulations in public spaces, workplaces and retail stores, in the hope of slowing the spread of the new strains.

Germany has made it mandatory for people riding public transit or shopping in supermarkets to wear medical-style masks, either N95 respirators or surgical masks. France is discouraging the use of cloth and homemade masks, arguing that they may not offer sufficient protection against the more highly transmissible coronavirus variants. In the United States, White House adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci is now recommending that Americans upgrade their PPE game by double-masking.

“If you have a physical covering with one layer, you put another layer on; it just makes common sense that it likely would be more effective,” Fauci told the “Today” show. “That’s the reason why you see people either double masking or doing a version of an N95.”

According to Fauci, wearing a surgical mask underneath a cloth mask provides maximum protection because the surgical mask acts as a filter and the cloth adds an additional layer and helps with fit. Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has not yet recommended double-masking in the United States, the practice is becoming more popular among American consumers, meaning that shoppers will come to expect grocery employees to double-mask also.

This is just one way that the PPE and sanitation standards are changing rapidly in the grocery channel. Another area of concern for retailers is surfaces. While the CDC said in November that contaminated surfaces aren’t the main way that the virus spreads, retail store surfaces remain favorable environments for transmission. Crucially, metallic surfaces can retain live viruses for longer than those of other materials.

Retailers will need to stay ahead of what’s next in the crisis by taking ever more innovative approaches to address these challenges, especially if the new, more contagious variants of the virus become the dominant strains infecting Americans.

Problems With PPE

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM PROGRESSIVE GROCERView All

Snacks Emerges as a Dynamic Category Riffled with Opportunities, Due to the Emergence of New Players

GOING BY THE RISE IN DEMANDS, THERE HAS BEEN A HUGE SURGE IN EMERGENCE OF NEW PLAYERS IN THE SNACKS CATEGORY. THE GROWTH OF THE INDIAN ORGANIC FOOD INDUSTRY IN THE LAST FIVE YEARS HAS OPENED THE DOOR FOR NEW PLAYERS IN THE SNACKS CATEGORY, KEEPING HEALTH AND WELLNESS IN MIND…

5 mins read
Progressive Grocer
March 2021

Dealing With Digital Payment Innovation

AS GROCERY E-COMMERCE GROWS, DIGITAL PAYMENT OPTIONS ARE EXPANDING, AND RETAILERS NEED TO KEEP UP.

5 mins read
Progressive Grocer
March 2021

YESS – Your Everyday Super Store to Open 15 Stores in Delhi-NCR In 2 Year

A LEADING SUPERSTORE CHAIN BASED IN DELHI-NCR, YESS CAME TO ITS INCEPTION ON SEPTEMBER 8, 2019 WITH A STORE IN NEW DELHI’S POPULAR HIGH STREET, LAJPAT NAGAR. IN A SHORT SPAN OF 18 MONTHS, YESS GREW FROM 1 SUPERSTORE TO 3 SUPERSTORES – THE OTHER TWO STORES ALSO LOCATED IN PREMIUM LOCATIONS OF THE NATIONAL CAPITAL REGION…

9 mins read
Progressive Grocer
March 2021

Plans for a Cleaner Future

RETAILERS ARE ADOPTING NEW TECHNOLOGY AND SANITATION PROTOCOLS TO ASSURE THEIR SHOPPERS THAT SAFETY WILL CONTINUE TO BE TOP OF MIND.

8 mins read
Progressive Grocer
March 2021

Walnuts Gaining Popularity In The FMCG Sector As It Reaches A New High After Pandemic

WALNUTS STAND OUT AS A GREAT OPTION WHEN IT COMES TO CHOOSING FOODS THAT SUPPORT WELLBEING, ESPECIALLY IMMUNITY AND MENTAL WELLNESS

3 mins read
Progressive Grocer
March 2021

Look Past Your Fears To Command A Greater Brand Share

Whether it is the unanticipated chaos from a pandemic or the predictable disruptions due to market conditions, the ability to quickly respond to these challenges and ensure an uninterrupted, unshakeable supply chain network by the sales teams is what sets a great brand apart from the rest.

4 mins read
Progressive Grocer
March 2021

The Store Experience of the Future

HERE ARE FOUR THINGS EVERY GROCER NEEDS TO THINK ABOUT.

3 mins read
Progressive Grocer
March 2021

Conscious Food: Offering a Wide Range of Certifi ed Organic & Natural Immunity Boosting Products

CONSCIOUS FOOD ONLY SOURCES RESPONSIBLY GROWN PRODUCE, PROMOTES INDIGENOUS VARIETIES AND FOLLOWS SUSTAINABLE PRACTICES WHEREVER POSSIBLE. THE BRAND ALSO ENCOURAGES SMALL FARMERS AND ORGANIC FARMING AND PROVIDES THE BEST QUALITY ORGANIC AND NATURAL FOOD ACROSS INDIA...

4 mins read
Progressive Grocer
March 2021

Consider the Alternative

NONTRADITIONAL BETTER-FOR-YOU SNACKS ARE GAINING FAVOR WITH MORE CONSUMERS AND RETAILERS.

8 mins read
Progressive Grocer
March 2021

7 Reasons Why Tosca's Reusable Foldable Plastic Crates Outmatch Corrugated Cardboard Boxes

TOSCA HAS BEEN AT THE FOREFRONT OF THE REUSABLE REVOLUTION FROM THE VERY BEGINNING AND ENABLES A FUTURE WHERE SUSTAINABLE SOLUTIONS FOR PACKAGING AND TRANSPORT ARE ESSENTIAL, AND DISPOSABLE IS A THING OF THE PAST…

3 mins read
Progressive Grocer
March 2021
RELATED STORIES

The LAST PANDEMIC

TECHNOLOGICAL BREAKTHROUGHS AND POLICY PROGRESS MEAN HUMANITY MAY NEVER AGAIN HAVE TO ENDURE A DISASTER LIKE COVID-19.

10+ mins read
Reason magazine
May 2021

AIRLINES PUSH WHITE HOUSE TO REJECT TESTING FOR US FLIGHTS

Leaders of several major U.S. airlines met online with White House officials to press their case against requiring coronavirus tests for passengers on domestic flights, saying it would undermine the already fragile industry.

2 mins read
AppleMagazine
AppleMagazine #486

COPING WITH THE LOSS OF Home for the Holidays

A wise man once wrote, there’s no place like home for the holidays, but this year, unfortunately that’s not the case. With the CDC recommending that we don’t head home this holiday season, the typically joyous time of year that we could all really use has to be put on pause.

2 mins read
Delight Gluten Free
December 2020

HOW DO I KNOW WHEN TO GET MY 2ND VACCINE SHOT?

As U.S. health officials try to get COVID-19 vaccines to people more quickly, it’s already time for some people to get their second shots.

4 mins read
AppleMagazine
AppleMagazine #480

Screening, Vaccinations Help Fight Cervical Cancer

January is Cervical Health Awareness Month and an important time of year to raise awareness about the importance of cervical health screenings for women.

2 mins read
Central Florida Health News
January 2021

IS IT SAFE TO STAY IN HOTELS DURING THE PANDEMIC?

Is it safe to stay in hotels during the pandemic?

1 min read
Techlife News
November 07, 2020

KEEP YOUR EYES HEALTHY DURING THE COVID PANDEMIC

During the coronavirus pandemic, people should guard their eyes with glasses or face shields to protect their eyes from virus infection.

2 mins read
Alternative Medicine
October 2020

UF/IFAS Extension Helps Farmworkers Stay Safe From COVID

UF/IFAS EXTENSION EXPERTS are communicating with agricultural workers to connect them with COVID-19 free testing, safety information and training – a role they have been serving throughout the pandemic.

2 mins read
Central Florida Ag News
October 2020

WE CAN STILL PASS THIS TEST

With the seasons changing and a vaccine a ways off, the U.S. needs to dramatically improve its infrastructure for rapid Covid testing. It’s got options

10+ mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
October 05, 2020

HIGH DEMAND FOR FLU SHOTS? EXPERTS HOPE TO AVOID ‘TWINDEMIC'

October is prime time for flu vaccinations, and the U.S. and Europe are gearing up for what experts hope is high demand as countries seek to avoid a “twindemic” with COVID-19.

4 mins read
Techlife News
October 03, 2020