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Your DeKalb Farmers Market owner responds to concerns about store safety during pandemic

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Your DeKalb Farmers Market owner responds to concerns about store safety during pandemic

DeKalb Farmers Market owner Robert Blazer. Photo by Dan Whisenhunt
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Decatur, GA – The Your DeKalb Farmers Market normally draws crowds as people shop in close quarters for goods that are hard to find anywhere else.

But now that there’s a pandemic and people are emphasizing social distancing, readers have contacted Decaturish to voice concerns about how the Farmers Market is responding.

Robert Blazer, the owner of Your DeKalb Farmers Market, said the grocery store is a safe place to shop.

“All of us are learning how to adapt to this new environment,” Blazer said. “We are committed to providing high-quality fresh food at the best price possible for us in a safe environment for our customers as we have for the last 43 years.”

Ted Terry, a candidate for DeKalb County Commission who also serves on the county’s Health Board, forwarded a list of complaints to Board of Health Director Sandra Elizabeth Ford.

The complaints include:

– Unlimited people allowed in at once

– Customers without masks with no consequence

– No lines for social distancing

– Groups of employees in close contact

– Less than 10% of workers with masks – less with gloves

– No sanitization stations

– Cashiers reprimand customers that want to wipe payment stations

– Carts, baskets, not cleaned

Blazer explained the measures that are in place to protect staff and customers.

“We are putting tape on the floor in front of service counters to let people know to stay back 6 feet,” Blazer said. “We clean our hand baskets and rolling carts with a bleach pressure washer regularly. We separate the cashiers so there is space between them. We control the people in the market so the register area only has one customer waiting maximum. Most of the time there is no wait.”

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He said there is regular cleaning and sanitation happening.

“Our cashiers are cleaning their pin pads regularly,” Blazer said. “We have hand sanitizer available. Our customer bathrooms have eight sinks in each one. All employee bathrooms all over the building are also set up this way. There are employee hand-washing stations all over the building that are monitored for sanitizer and soap daily. We have hygiene checks being done before we open using special biological swabs to make sure all our equipment is being cleaned and sanitized correctly.”

The company also is taking steps to sanitize the airflow in the store, he said.

“We have temperature checks on our refrigeration equipment continually,” Blazer said. “We have a sanitized air washer system that maintains 62 degrees and 65% relative humidity in the market constantly.  All the air in the market production and selling areas is cycled through this air washer system every 10 minutes. Higher humidity makes viruses less able to be transmitted. This is why during the summer we do not get the flu as much compared to the dryer conditions during the winter.  All pollen and other particles are washed out of the air. Outside air is being continually added to our system. This system is unique for a retail environment.”

He said those are just some of the steps he is taking to protect customers.

“I have been working seven days a week to make the market function given these difficult times for our suppliers,” Blazer said. “We have maintained our inventory these last weeks so there are no shortages in the products we normally carry. The market is large enough so people can maintain their own distances from each other. I have seen our customers be very courteous to each other in this regard. The market is not as busy on the weekends as it was. The business is spread out all during the week because people have more time to shop. The least busy times are around lunch and dinner hours. The busier time is in the mornings from 9-11. We are open 9-9 seven days a week as usual.”

Blazer also posted a message about the store’s COVID-19 safety precautions on the store’s website.

Grocery stores are allowed to remain open under the state’s shelter-in-place order.

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