FORT LEE, Va. – The Defense Commissary Agency will begin daily health screenings May 8 of anyone who works in commissaries - including employees, baggers and affiliated contractors - before they start their shifts.
The Commissary at Hanscom Air Force Base, Massachusetts, will initially conduct the screenings with a questionnaire that focuses on any visible symptoms related to COVID-19, and traces their travel history as well as potential connections with anyone affected by the virus.
As stores receive their infrared thermometers, the screening will include temperature checks. If a temperature check determines anyone is a potential risk, employees will be directed to go home and contact their health care provider. They can return to work once they have no signs of a fever or illness, and they will be screened again.
"Military resale is good at evolving and adapting, and screening the people who work in our stores is the first step in a new normal that helps reduce the risk of transmission for everyone," said Rear Adm. (retired) Robert J. Bianchi, DOD Special Assistant for Commissary Operations. "We should expect to operate like this for the foreseeable future."
Bianchi, who is also the CEO of the Navy Exchange Service Command (NEXCOM), said his Navy Exchange stores are also preparing to implement these procedures for the personnel working in their facilities.
"There are probably going to be many commercial businesses that start implementing temperature checks for employees and wearing of face coverings, so this should be no surprise to anyone as they may experience this in many aspects of their personal lives," he said.
The employee health screenings are the latest in a series of safety measures commissaries have implemented:
* Anyone (including customers) entering a store must wear a face covering.
* Stores have plexiglass sneeze shields in all regular checkout lanes.
* Commissary personnel will wipe down checkout areas, product display cases, restrooms and shopping carts with disinfectant, and practice routine hand washing and other basic sanitation measures.
* Touchless credit card processing eliminates the need for the customer to sign.
* Customers scan their own ID cards so cashiers can provide them touchless transactions.
* Reusable bag usage has been banned.
* Only authorized customers - this includes disabled veterans with VHIC cards - will be able to enter a commissary. Visitors will no longer be allowed to accompany authorized customers and a 100% ID check is in place.
* DeCA canceled special events such as the spring sidewalk sales, in-store product demonstrations (including DeCA's free coffee program), group tours, vendor-sponsored events and other events to discourage group gatherings.
* Store officials at Hanscom are working with installation leadership and public health personnel to implement risk reduction practices such as designated store hours for various patron groups, and limiting the number of patrons in the store.
Beginning May 12, the Hanscom Commissary hours will change to the following: Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday remains closed.
Hanscom Commissary customers should continue to refer to the federal government's response to coronavirus, COVID-19 website and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Coronavirus site for updates and guidance regarding this virus. Updates related to the Hanscom Commissary can be found https://www.hanscom.af.mil/Coronavirus/.
For further information, visit https://www.commissaries.com/shopping/store-locations/hanscom-afb.
(Editor's note: The 66th Air Base Group Public Affairs office contributed to this article.)