Stores limit how many customers are allowed inside

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The Kanawha-Charleston Health Department is requiring all essential businesses that are remaining open implement new practices and guidelines to further social distancing.

All essential stores in Kanawha County that are remaining open are now limited to having two customers per 1,000 square feet of store space at a time.

Stores now have a capacity of two customers per 1,000 square feet of building space. Once this limit is reached, customers must form a cue and enter based on an one-in-one-out system managed by the store.

The Bigley Piggly Wiggly is about 50,000 square feet, so only 100 customers are allowed inside at once, owner Jeff Joseph said. Signs are posted at the entrance and throughout the store, telling customers to follow social distancing guidelines.

"We’ve got it posted," Joseph said. "We really haven’t had a problem with it. It’s a steady flow of people, but I think most people are abiding by the shelter in place order, so it really hasn’t been a real problem."

Joseph has installed plastic barriers at each checkout station to separate employees from customers, and employees are wearing masks and gloves in addition to cleaning all surfaces often.

"There has been a lot of things put in place that will hopefully help, and help slow the spread, and help us get through this difficult time," Joseph said.

Stores are required to only have one entrance and exit to promote one-way flow through the store. Tape has also been placed on the ground to keep customers 6 feet apart while getting into the checkout line.

"I don’t think anyone has seen anything quite like this," Joseph said about how this compares to other challenges his family-owned business has faced since opening in the 1920s. "This has been a new experience for us all, new territory, new challenges, but I think we have all pulled together and raised to the occasion."

Customers said the empty store allowed them to get shopping done faster and even eliminated the normal 10-minute wait at the lunch counter.

The guidelines were put in place following an executive order by Gov. Jim Justice. The order requires as many people as possible to work from home.