Although there is a relatively low number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our city (7 confirmed), we have begun our 7th week in the house.  Last night I ventured out to the local supermarket for the first time in several weeks.  My husband has taken over almost all of the shopping to minimize exposure, and we often shop at the neighborhood stores instead of the big retailers.

I noticed many changes since my last trip to the supermarket.  As I approached the entrance, an employee sprayed a cart with disinfectant and wiped down the handle and front basket.  The automatic sliding doors were half-closed, and I had to wait my turn to enter.  An employee dispensed some sanitizer on my hands and I was in – only one family member can enter but luckily I was alone (a rare occasion these days!).  Things were pretty normal inside with the exception of shoppers wearing masks and most employees wearing masks, gloves, and face shields.  There were signs to tell people about social distancing, and dots on the floor at the registers to help shoppers know how far away to stand.

On the way out, I noticed another change.  The automatic doors at one of the two main entrance/exit points were closed but not blocked, and an employee was monitoring the door.  The automatic slider at the other end of the store was half-closed and had a store employee standing by to make sure the door was used for exit only.  Since I’m currently living in Mexico where the egress situation is much different from what is required by the US codes, I was actually thinking that the supermarket was doing a pretty good job of keeping people safe.  Maybe the closed exit even has breakaway doors in case of an emergency (or not).

Retail Exit Routes

Photo: wtop news

I’ve heard that many US retail stores are also temporarily changing their egress routes – I’m guessing that the intent is to control access, but egress is being affected as well.

  • Are AHJs allowing stores to make temporary changes?  If yes, are there some guidelines to help ensure safe egress?
  • If you see a modification that you know is not code-compliant, do you speak with the store manager?
  • Have you seen any good examples of balancing monitored access points with safe egress?


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