A customer shops at the Brunssum Commissary in the Netherlands during the store’s July 29 grand opening ceremony. DeCA stores are following CDC and DOD guidance, specifically regarding sanitary measures, social distancing and wearing masks. (DeCA photo by Norman Brown)
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FORT LEE, Va. – Out with 2020 and in with 2021. Although the year has changed, the Defense Commissary Agency’s responsibility to deliver the commissary benefit safely during the COVID-19 pandemic has not.
“Be assured, at all of our commissary locations worldwide, we are following CDC and DOD guidance, specifically regarding sanitary measures, social distancing and wearing masks,” said Bill Moore, DeCA director and CEO. “These measures are particularly important to keep our employees and customers healthy as case numbers climb.”
On March 25, 2020, DeCA’s stores, central distribution centers and its central meat processing plant were designated mission-critical in DOD’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, the agency has not taken this responsibility lightly, Moore said.
“The entire DeCA team appreciates the tremendous responsibility of being one of your valued lifelines for support and understands the critical mission of delivering your commissary benefit,” he said.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, DeCA has implemented the following measures to help mitigate the spread of the virus in commissaries:
- Commissaries conduct daily health screenings of anyone who works in commissaries – including employees, baggers and affiliated contractors – before they start their shifts.
- Anyone (including customers) entering a store must wear a face covering.
- Stores have clear plastic sneeze shields in all regular checkout lanes.
- Commissary personnel 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.
- 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.
- Commissaries are working with installation leadership and public health personnel to implement risk reduction practices specific to that base.
To help give customers more cost-effective options for personal protective equipment, commissaries have added disposable and reusable masks and digital contactless thermometers to store inventories.
“I would like to send a profound ‘thank you’ to our customers on behalf of our DeCA employees worldwide,” Moore said. “We all would like you to know how much we appreciate your understanding, patience, and continued support throughout the coronavirus outbreak.”
Customers should continue to refer to DeCA’s for updates related to commissaries. For overall updates and guidance regarding this virus, they are encouraged to access the following websites: the response to COVID-19 and the Coronavirus site.