Ralphs and Food 4 Less plan to offer COVID-19 testing to their employees based on symptoms and medical need, likely starting in mid-May, parent company Kroger said Saturday.
“Tests in California will leverage a combination of at-home kits and public testing locations,” spokesman John Votava told KTLA. Details on testing options for associates will be forthcoming, he said.
In Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti said sites across the city can test up to 12,000 people a day, setting aside 36% of appointments for front-line workers, which include grocery store employees. Slots have been filling up since the mayor announced that city-run testing locations have opened up to asymptomatic residents across the county.
Kroger shared its plan to offer testing to associates after a local chapter of the United Food and Commercial Workers union protested Friday outside the Ralphs Hollywood location on Sunset Boulevard near La Brea Avenue.
Twenty-one people have tested positive for COVID-19 at that store, according to Los Angeles County’s list of workplaces that have had at least five coronavirus cases. It’s the county’s largest-known cluster of COVID-19 at a grocery store.
In early April, workers represented by UFCW 770 at the Ralphs store in nearby Koreatown said they had to buy and distribute their own face masks through the union.
At the time, a Ralphs representative told KTLA that the company was working to secure masks and installing plexiglass partitions to protect its 18,000 associates.
Outside the Ralphs store in Hollywood on Friday, motorists honked in apparent support of the protesters, who held a sign that read: “19 WORKERS HAVE TESTED COVID-19 POSITIVE IN THIS STORE… NOT ONE MORE!!!”
On Saturday, Votava said Ralphs has taken “extensive measures” to protect its associates and customers. Those include providing gloves and face coverings for each associate, mandatory temperature and symptom checks prior to the start of their shifts, and restricting store capacity to 25% of their normal limit, the representative said.