By Hanna Snyder Gambini, Republican-American
WATERTOWN — Bob LaBonne Jr. said his decision to scan customers and employees for fever before entering his four area grocery stores is in the interest of public health and safety, and that he makes no apologies for the coronavirus precautions.
“Every morning I wake up and think, ‘What else can I do to make it safer for my employees, my customers and the community,’” LaBonne said April 8, one day after he announced the new measure at his Watertown, Prospect, Woodbury and Salisbury stores.
“So far, it’s been well received. I’d say about 99% of shoppers are in favor of this,” LaBonne said. “I only had one woman who was upset (on April 7), and one or two incidents of rude or boisterous people.”
A fever is one of the symptoms of COVID-19. Customers who don’t want their heads scanned can use the curbside or delivery service, or shop elsewhere, he said.
“And as a private entity, I can do what’s in the best interest of my workers and customers, who go home to their families every night,” LaBonne said.
This measure follows the installation of plastic shields around the deli counter and cashier stations to protect workers and customers by minimizing exposure to coronavirus.
“I hear from friends in Italy and what they’re doing over there, and they’re a month ahead of us,” he said, expecting other shops to soon follow suit.
One gentleman who tried to shop on April 8 was found to have a 101-degree fever.
“He was very respectful about it,” LaBonne said, “but he also didn’t know he had a fever.”
Admittedly, LaBonne said fever is not a guaranteed sign that someone is infected with coronavirus, and there can be many carriers whom have no symptoms, but any precaution is a good one.
“We’re taking the lead on how to prevent the spread, and I’m sorry if people aren’t happy about this but I feel obligated to do what I can to prevent people with fevers from shopping here. Many people are thanking me for the precautions.”