On Friday, July 24th, the Swarthmore CO-OP reported an employee had been confirmed positive for COVID-19 after being tested two days prior.
“This staff member is part of our front end operations and last worked Sunday July 19th. We have identified all staff members who have had direct, extended contact,” a sign outside the establishment and an online post from the CO-OP website read. “Out of precaution and care for everyone we are having them self-quarantine … and seek testing. We are also in the process of contact tracing with the rest of the staff. … All staff will be fully compensated during the time away from their shifts.”
Since late March, the Swarthmore CO-OP has been enforcing social distancing regulations. Only one of the store’s two entrances is open, so as to control traffic. Before entering, customers must either wash their hands or use hand sanitizer, and must take a pre-sanitized yellow laminated card to ensure only 50 people, including staff members, are in the store at any one time. Inside, tape marks the distances of six feet to remind customers to distance themselves. As of July 1, 2020, the state of Pennsylvania also made masks mandatory whenever someone leaves their residence and in all public spaces.
“This sudden loss of 7 staff members … has created a dramatic staff shortage which is going to temporarily affect our operations and hours. We do have actionable plans to fill the voids. However, this will impact service levels through out [sic] the store for the next several weeks,” the CO-OP sign also indicates.
As a result of this staff shortage, store hours have been shortened by two hours each day, and are closed on Wednesdays.
“We remain confident in our best practices in protecting staff and customers,” the sign concludes.
This is the first reported case of COVID-19 at at any Swarthmore store, many of which have been reopening in the past weeks. A street away, Renatos, Occasionally Yours, and The Village Vine have constructed outdoor seating with table service. Meanwhile, Bamboo Bistro is still takeout only, while Hobbs Coffee has been entirely closed, with the exception of the occasional pre-ordered pizza or soup.
Featured images courtesy of Rachel Lapides for The Phoenix