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King Soopers' Response to Complaints About Poor Mask Use

The King Soopers at Ninth and Corona in Denver was the site of a deadly COVID-19 outbreak.
The King Soopers at Ninth and Corona in Denver was the site of a deadly COVID-19 outbreak.
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Hours after we called out King Soopers for slacking on COVID-19 safety procedures, including a lack of crowd control and mask monitoring, the October 7 report from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment publicly identified two of the grocery giant's metro stores as outbreak sites — the first time such a designation had been made in months.

One of those stores was King Soopers #1, at 1331 Speer Boulevard. The company's most iconic Denver location, at Ninth and Corona, had been declared an outbreak site on May 12, and still marks the worst attack of the novel coronavirus suffered by King Soopers to date. By the time the CDPHE formally labeled that outbreak as resolved, thirteen staff members had contracted the disease and two had died from it.

But one customer suggests that store didn't learn its lesson from the outbreak, and recently sent this missive to King Soopers' management.

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"I was just in your store on Corona store in Denver between 10 and 10:30 p.m. A man next to me started self-checkout without a face covering. I watched security talk to him and the clerk, but nobody removed him from the store. I commented on his lack of face covering and he continued to do what he was doing. This is a global pandemic and face masks are required. He was actively endangering the lives of everyone around him. It is policy to wear masks in the store and this should be enforced. People who don’t wear them should not be allowed to shop let alone finish shopping. Please make sure that this isn’t just a suggestion but enforced. Please, this is a safety issue. A symptomatic people are not necessarily safe people."

Here's the reply the customer received by way of Kroger, King Soopers' parent company:

Thank you for contacting Kroger Customer Connect. We are currently experiencing an unusually high email volume that is delaying our response time. We appreciate your patience and apologize for the delay. I want to thank you for taking the time to send a message to us regarding your suggestion that we should enforce that customers that do not wear a mask should not be able to shop in the store. Customer feedback is essential to us and the health and safety of our customers and employees is our number one goal. As such, I have shared your comments with the store management team for review. Please feel free to reply to this email or call us at 1-800-576-4377...should you have further questions or concerns. We appreciate hearing from our valued customers and will assist in any way possible. Thank you for shopping with us and have a great day.

The phrasing of this answer prompted the customer to offer a frustrated follow-up: "This is not a matter of suggestion. You have a sign at your doors that says they are required in the store. This disease is killing people and not enforcing the rules makes you compliant in that. I just had another incident at your store where there was a line to enter and two women walked right in the exit doors and nobody stopped them. This is an issue of negligence that can result in you getting sued and worse, someone’s death. This should be a no-brainer situation to a large corporation if they care about the people using their stores and the people working there. Do the right thing and enforce your rules and be more diligent in policing the behavior of people coming in and out. This pandemic is not going away and something like this can make a significant difference."

The reply the customer received this round? One identical to the previous missive.

The customer's response to that? "I am only going in as a last resort."

Three outbreaks at King Soopers stores remain active. The total number of Kroger outbreaks in Colorado to date: twelve.

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