While the stores are closed, Trader Joe’s will be paying all Crew Members for their scheduled shifts.

By Betty Gold
April 03, 2020

Grocery shopping is hard enough. Between the prerequisite meal planning for the week ahead, long lines, and trying not to spend your entire income on frivolous foods (why does the pillowcase-sized bag of dried mango have to look so inviting?), I’m ready for a nap as soon as I get home from the store.

For many of us, Trader Joe’s has eased the free-floating anxiety that comes with grocery shopping. You know you’ll leave with enough cauliflower gnocchi and mini croissants to make the endlessly long line well worth it, and that in times of trouble, the hard-working crew members there will be helpful and kind. However, in the current pandemic climate, even Trader Joe’s is anything but a stress-free or assuredly safe place.

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Many Americans are rightfully abiding by the moral obligation that is staying inside and physical distancing from others right now, which has been encouraged by both federal and state officials to help slow the rate of COVID-19 transmission. While these practices are meant for the health and safety of every American, one of the biggest obstacles for those in voluntary quarantine has been figuring out how to feed themselves and their families. Some have looked to grocery delivery services, which is a safer measure than facing crowds (not to mention shortages) in grocery stores. But delivery isn’t a viable—accessible, affordable—option for everyone, and many have continued to buy food and supplies at brick-and-mortar grocery stores, like Trader Joe’s.

On the upside, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has reassured Americans that COVID-19 cannot be passed through food itself: “Currently there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19.” Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean that you cannot contaminate others—or expose yourself to the virus—person-to-person while shopping for food, which is exactly what why Trader Joe’s has chosen to close several of its grocery stores across the United States.

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Trader Joe’s has announced on its website that six stores would be temporarily closed for compulsory cleaning and sterilization. This is due to a crew member in each of these locations either testing positive for COVID-19 or receiving treatment for a potential case.

Here are the locations of the affected closed stores:

  • Hewlett, NY – Trader Joe’s on 1280 West Broadway. A Crew Member reporting symptoms consistent with COVID-19 was last present in the store on April 1, 2020.
  • Saugus, MA – Trader Joe’s on 358 Broadway. A Crew Member reporting symptoms related to COVID-19 was last present in the store on March 31, 2020
  • Fairfield, CT – Trader Joe’s on 2258 Black Rock Turnpike. A Crew Member who was diagnosed for COVID-19 was last present in the store on March 31, 2020
  • Paramus, NJ – Trader Joe’s on 404 Rt 17 N. Crew Members have tested positive for COVID-19; the latest date on which a Crew Member with symptoms for COVID-19  was in the store is March 31, 2020.
  • Madison, WI – Trader Joe’s on 1810 Monroe St. A Crew Member who tested positive for COVID-19 was last present in the store on March 30, 2020
  • Merrick, NY – Trader Joe’s on 1714 Merrick Rd. Crew Members have tested positive for COVID-19; the latest date on which one of these Crew Members  was in the store is March 27, 2020.

“We are connecting with all Crew Members at the respective locations, encouraging anyone who may have been in contact to follow CDC-recommended self-monitoring guidelines and to call their healthcare providers right away if they develop any symptoms,” says Trader Joe’s on its website.

While the stores are closed, Trader Joe’s will be paying all Crew Members for their scheduled shifts (kudos, TJ’s). As soon as the store has been fully cleaned and restocked, they plan to reopen.

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“We are working closely with local health officials to take all necessary measures and provide our communities with the most appropriate information needed to make an informed decision regarding their health and safety. We encourage customers who have health-related concerns to review CDC and local health department guidelines and to contact their healthcare providers with any questions,” states their accountment. “As we continue to respond to this rapidly evolving situation, our focus remains on doing whatever is necessary to safeguard the health and safety of our Crew Members and customers and best support our community.”

For more how-to information on shopping for groceries or having food delivered during the COVID-19 pandemic, see Real Simple’s guide here.