Stop & Shop

A Stop & Shop employee stocks produce in April 2020 at a store in Simsbury, Conn. Gov. Ned Lamont ordered all business establishments to provide employees masks as of April 20 and until further notice during the 2020 pandemic of the novel coronavirus COVID-19.

Stop & Shop joined other major supermarket chains on Monday in asking the federal government and states to classify workers as “extended first responders” in an effort to give them better access to protective equipment and minimize any disruptions to their store operations.

Stop & Shop has the largest number of supermarkets of any chain in Connecticut with just over 90 in total, with the company based in Quincy, Mass., as a subsidiary of Ahold Delhaize, which also operates the Hannaford chain in northern New England.

The United Food and Commercial Workers union, which represents Stop & Shop workers, has been pressing for better pay and protections for workers during the coronavirus pandemic, with Stop & Shop extending to May 30 a 10 percent bump in pay that had been in place since March 22. The union has posted “#ShopSmart” tips for grocery shoppers online at ufcw.org, running the gamut from keeping abreast of individual store policies to showering upon returning home.

UFCW had won similar commitments earlier this month from the second and third largest U.S. grocery chains in Kroger and Albertsons, whose Acme subsidiary has two stores in Greenwich and one each in Stamford and New Canaan, with Ahold Delhaize fourth as ranked by Progressive Grocery.

A Stop & Shop spokesperson did not state Monday whether the company has gotten indications from any state or federal entities that “first responder” status will be extended to supermarkets, referring a query to UFCW. The office of Gov. Ned Lamont did not respond immediately Monday morning on whether Lamont has considered creating any distinct classification for supermarket workers.

In mid-April, Lamont ordered business establishments to provide masks to employees and for supermarket customers to don them, on the heels of a “Safe Stores” directive in early April that among other steps required stores to enforce “social distancing” in stores and where possible install Plexiglas shields to separate checkout clerks and other workers from shoppers.

On Monday, Lamont’s office announced small businesses classified as “essential” can apply to receive free surgical masks with a limit of two per employee, with details online at the www.ctcovidresponse.org coordinated by the Connecticut Business & Industry Association that is matching producers of protective equipment with entities needing supplies.

Jim Shay contributed to this report. Includes prior reporting by Paul Schott.

Alex.Soule@scni.com; 203-842-2545; @casoulman