By David Goldstein

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Essential employees at stores have been ordered to wear face coverings for weeks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. But, in a new David Goldstein Investigation, our hidden cameras found that’s not the case after hours.

We caught one employee who blows his nose, then stocks the shelves at a local supermarket. We never saw him wash his hands. Another, wearing no face covering, scratches his nose and then continues to load groceries on the shelf – items you could be buying the next day without ever knowing.

City and county officials mandated face coverings a few weeks ago and gloves are also recommended by many stores, but when it gets dark after-hours, here is what we found…

At a Ralph’s in Burbank, the sign says ‘Masks Required’, but we witnessed a woman stocking items with no masks or gloves.

We saw that nose scratcher filling the shelves at another Ralph’s.

At Target in Burbank, we saw one employee who wasn’t wearing any kind of mask as he loaded boxes that would end up on the shelf.

We did see one employee wearing both mask and gloves, but crossed paths with someone who had none.

Dr. Marc Kerner says that offers no protection from spreading COVID-19.

“They could be coughing or sneezing or shedding the virus onto the package surfaces,” said Kerner.

At the 99 Cents Only store in North Hollywood, we witnessed a woman who had a mask, but it was hanging around her chin, not covering her mouth.

At a Vons, we saw an employee without mask or gloves loading up salads on the shelf

And the guy blowing his nose? That was at Vallarta Supermarket in North Hollywood. As he walks around the aisle we can see him adjust his mask over his face, then stock the shelves with no gloves.

David: “Would you think that people who work in these stores that are supposed to wear masks would be wearing them at all times in the store?”

Dr. Kerner: “It’s probably best that they do, especially if they’re handling food.”

We contacted all the stores. Those who responded said masks and gloves are provided to employees and that they should be wearing them even after hours.

After our investigation, they say they’ll reinforce it. You can see their statements below:

RALPHS: We have heard from some of our night crew that they dislike wearing the gloves and face coverings provided to all associates. We have had to periodically remind associates of our PPE policy requiring all associates to wear the provided face coverings and gloves at all times for the protection of our fellow associates, as well as our customers.

99 CENTS ONLY: Our most immediate and highest priority is the health and safety of our customers and associates. 99 Cents Only Stores has provided facial coverings and gloves to all of our associates, and we have instructed our associates in the City of Los Angeles and other jurisdictions to wear facial coverings and gloves at all times during their shifts – regardless of whether or not the store is open.

TARGET: Target is providing team members with high-quality, disposable face masks and gloves to wear at work and encouraging healthy hygiene habits as guided by the CDC. All stores and distribution centers have received masks and gloves. Given CDC guidance on the role that face masks can play in slowing the spread of the coronavirus and to keep our team and guests safe, we’re requiring team members to wear masks or face coverings when working in our stores.

VONS: We want to create environments that are clean, sanitized, and support safe distancing. We have implemented several steps to ensure the safety of those who shop in and work in our stores, including providing masks for all store associates. Our company policy requires associates to wear a face-covering while working in the store, including the time during which the store is closed.

As for gloves, we are following all CDC recommendations and guidelines, and they have been recommending frequent hand washing, or the use of hand sanitizer is best for preventing the spread of the Coronavirus.  We have established protocols to ensure store associates can wash their hands at least one time per hour.  That said, gloves are available for associates who want to wear them, but they are not a substitution for hand washing or using hand sanitizer.

VALLARTA: What is Vallarta’s policy regarding employees wearing face coverings and gloves? It is Vallarta’s policy that all team members must wear a face mask or cloth face covering at all times, during all hours, while at work. Team members that remove face coverings will receive disciplinary action, up to and including termination.

We’ve followed CDC guidance on safety to prevent the spread of COVID-19, in training all our team members on frequent and proper hand washing. This is the #1 prevention according to CDC. Regardless, for team members in non-prep food areas, who feel safer wearing gloves, we have made them available with job aides on use, removal, and disposal while reinforcing frequent hand washing. Team members working in food prep departments are required to wear gloves at all times.

Vallarta has consistently monitored and followed CDC and state/local public health agency guidance on safety and best practices for preventing spread of the virus.

Have workers in those stores been issued face coverings? Absolutely, Vallarta has provided face coverings to all team members and we have additional inventory at the stores, should a team member misplace or leave their face mask at home.

Is it Vallarta’s policy that face coverings be worn at all times whether the store is open or not? It is Vallarta’s policy that all team members must wear a face mask or cloth face covering at all times, during all hours, while at work, regardless if the store is open to the public or not.  Team members that remove face coverings will receive disciplinary action, up to and including termination.

David Goldstein

Comments (7)
  1. Jason Applegate says:

    Seriously guys? This is your best investigative reporting right now? To expose some over-worked and under-paid grocery workers for not wearing a mask 100% of the time and scratching their face? They’re no different than the hundreds of other people I see touching everything with their gloves and then their phone. As a healthcare worker, I feel like they have enough stress just showing up to work every day. Let’s just leave them alone right now and try not to pander to folks who are already prone to hysteria.

  2. Cynthia Brown says:

    I’m a retired RN that totally agrees with Jason Applegate.i would also like to add that during the reporting of the woman selling N 95 masks her face was blurred while these hard working employees were shamed on TV. There was no malicious intent by the grocery workers. What a difference in reporting.

  3. T K says:

    1-800-WHO-CARES!!!! Over it and heading to the beach this weekend.

  4. Angela Marie says:

    I was at Ralphs today in Fountain Valley. Several employees were either not wearing masks at all or were wearing them around their chin. Not only did the manager support the practice, when I confirmed this was a policy, some of the employees heckled me out of the store. I’m primary source of grocery shopping for my family, my in-laws, and my kids and I will be taking my business to Costco and anywhere-else going forward.

  5. Kevin P McDermott says:

    The same thing happened yesterday at the Palm Desert Store. Ralph’s does not require masks. Why don’t they advertise that then?

  6. A B says:

    As a grocery store worker, you try wearing a mask your entire shift. An average shift is 8 hours! We get 2 15 minute breaks. So 7 1/2 hours we are supposed to wear this mask for and if there is overtime that is an even longer amount of time to be tortured. How long on average do you wear your mask for? 30 mins? An hour? I understand the need to wear masks but when 70% of our customers do not wear masks it is a kind of one sided to only require employees to wear them don’t you think? The only reason I wear a mask is so that I am not sent home for not wearing it. Also all gloves do is spread bacteria from one surface to another. Best practice is washing of hands and hand sanitizer. You people are way too dependent on mask wearing. It does not prevent the virus.

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