In the latest attempt to reduce crowding at grocery stores during the coronavirus pandemic, health officials in a Maryland county are asking residents to only do their shopping on certain days based on their last name.
Officials at the Calvert County Health Department asked residents in an announcement on Wednesday to "voluntarily limit trips for groceries to once every 5 days on the following schedule," listing two suggested dates each for five different groups of people, based on the first letter of their last names.
For instance, people with last names starting with A-C would shop on dates ending with 0 and 5.
Download the TODAY app for the latest coverage on the coronavirus outbreak.
The county health officials also "strongly recommended" that customers and employees wear basic face masks and "place the needs of medically vulnerable neighbors above their personal preferences."
Stores in Calvert County are also required to disinfect shopping carts or make antiseptic wipes available to shoppers at the entrance. Employees also must be given time to wash their hands every hour, and occupancy at retailers is limited to 5 people per 1,000 square feet of the store.
"As a result of chronic overcrowding in grocery and convenience stores, as well as some other retailers, the Health Department has acted on Governor Hogan’s directive to institute new policies to decrease virus transmission,'' Calvert County officials said in the release.
The guidelines from Calvert County follow myriad changes made by large retailers and grocery chains like Walmart, Target and Costco, including giving health workers and first responders priority to enter stores, offering elderly-only shopping hours and metering the amount of customers allowed in the store at a given time.
"We all want to get back to our normal lives as soon as possible," Calvert County officials said in the release. "Our actions make a difference. Sustaining those actions are the key to lowering our risk of infection and lifting social restrictions. We can’t speed up time, but we can dramatically slow the spread of the virus."