The grocery-store chain has taken several steps to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Drive-thru testing for COVID-19 started weeks ago, and restaurants that wouldn’t normally offer curbside pickup are offering it amid the worldwide pandemic.
Now, grocery stores are getting in on the to-go service.
Curbside pickup service started Saturday at the Publix grocery store on Longboat Key.
The store at 525 Bay Isles Parkway is one of more than 200 Publix locations that offer curbside service, according to Publix Director of Communications Maria Brous.
“We have a plan to aggressively add curbside pickup locations this year and are in the middle of activating locations,” Brous said.
Brous said there are “many factors” that affect the stores that receive curbside pickup.
The Florida Department of Health said older adults and people who have serious underlying medical conditions might be at a higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19. The town of Longboat Key has a full-time population of approximately 7,000 people, and 69% of those residents are older than 65 years old.
Mayor Ken Schneier complemented Town Manager Tom Harmer, fire chief Paul Dezzi and “charitable groups” for lobbying Publix to implement curbside pickup service in Longboat Key.
“I can’t overstate how much of an accomplishment that is from where we stood about 24 hours ago, where the Publix management from up top was saying, ‘we just can’t do this,’ ” Schneier said during the April 6 virtual town commission meeting.
At the meeting, Harmer announced Publix would implement its curbside service.
“That’s really big news for our residents and it’s exciting to see they’re looking out for Longboat Key,” Harmer said.
It took the Longboat store five days to get the service up and running. The Longboat Publix has set aside four parking spaces at the north side of the store for customers to utilize the curbside service.
“We ensure our associates understand how to utilize the technology required to handle orders,” Brous said.
Dezzi encouraged customers not to get discouraged if they could not find a time that worked with them to pick up their groceries curbside.
Customers must register through a third-party service called Instacart to utilize the curbside pickup, according to Dezzi.
“You’re registering through Instacart, but the employees of Publix — again, this is the first time they've ever done it — will be the ones that are going to be shopping for the residents, and they’ll be the ones bringing them out to the curbside.
“They need to register through the Instacart, and then you’ve made your order and then you can choose a time. Again, if the time is not there, maybe grade out, but they want you to come back and just double-check it in about 15-20 minutes. What they’re trying to do is catch up. They’ve had a lot of orders come in."
To prevent the spread of COVID-19, Longboat’s Publix store has installed Plexiglass barriers between cashiers and shoppers, a project that is also taking place around the store chain.
"We have been, and will continue to be, keenly focused on intensive, ongoing protective measures in all our stores,” Brous said.
Brous said Publix is disinfecting high-touch surfaces such as touchpads, computers, drawer handles and phones to abide by the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Employees also have the option to wear a mask and gloves unless it becomes required by law, according to Brous.
Inside the Longboat store, there is tape on the floor to encourage customers to walk in one direction down aisles. At the cash registers, there are markers to encourage customers to stay 6 feet from each other while in line.
The Longboat store has also limited each customer to one paper product whether they choose paper towels or toilet paper. There is also a one-case-of-water limit.
Longboat’s Publix store does not directly deliver groceries to people, but the grocer also uses Instacart for delivery. People can call Instacart at (888)246-246-7822 to have their Publix groceries delivered.
Town volunteers are also available to pick up and deliver to groceries to Longboat residents. The community partnership service runs from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Residents can call (941)316-8702 to utilize this service.
The Longboat location is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m each day. However, the store has a special senior shopping hour from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.