In Miami-Dade, now you’ll be forced to avoid crowds at stores

No more free tastings, salad-bars and self-serve food bars closed, too

NORTH MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – Going grocery shopping or to the pharmacy in the age of social-distancing and the COVID-19 pandemic is becoming more and more complicated.

Now, in an effort to prevent stores from becoming too crowded, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez is putting limits on supermarket capacity and some grocery store practices.

Gimenez’s Executive Order 17-20 went into effect at 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, April 2.

Some stores in Miami-Dade County have already begun to put up crowd-control stanchions, those pole barriers with retractable belts that you see at airports and movie theaters. That’s to ensure that capacity inside a store is limited to 50 percent as part of the executive order. So, you may have to stand in line at a store outside until you are ushered in.

Someone from the store will be required to monitor the entrances and the exits to keep the flow of store traffic at the required limit and moving.

No more free samplings like BJ’s and Publix used to dole out. Those aren’t allowed anymore either in Miami-Dade County. Tastings inside stores are to be discontinued until further notice.

Salad bars and self-serve food stations will be closed, except for pre-packaged “grab and go” items.

Those are the “musts” for stores.

The Executive Order doesn’t require stores, but does encourage them to:

Provide hand sanitizers for customers and employees.

Provide disinfecting wipes.

Allow employees to wear masks, gloves and personal protective equipment.

Publix going to delivery only?

A viewer wrote in to ask about Publix considering closing its stores and going to full delivery in the wake of the virus.

So, we contacted the supermarket chain. The comment from Maria Brous, director of communications, Publix Supermarkets stated: "We continue to monitor guidance provided by the CDC and evaluate business decisions as information is made available. Currently, there are no plans to close our stores.

However, for customers unable to visit our stores or who prefer to shop from home, we offer Instacart delivery in all our operating areas. Please visit for more information."

Don’t touch that PIN pad

On Saturday, April 4, Publix will roll out its contactless pay to all its stores. The contactless payment is made by placing a smartphone or contactless pay-enabled credit or debit card near a contactless-enabled device, rather than swiping or inserting a card into the PIN pad. The most commonly known forms of contactless payments are Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay.

This digital payment method will be in addition to the existing mobile pay option through the Publix app, which customers can still use to finalize their purchases.

Other forms of payment will still be accepted for those without the technology of a contactless device.

“In these unprecedented times, we recognized the need to make our customers’ trips to our stores faster and more efficient,” said Publix CEO Todd Jones.

“By expediting this payment option, we will help customers reduce contact with commonly used surfaces like PIN pads.”

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