Thousands of Missouri grocery store workers want customers to be required to wear masks

Tracking Coronavirus

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Thousands of Missouri grocery store workers say more needs to be done to protect them while on the job.

They’re calling on Gov. Mike Parson to make it happen.

Members of the United Food and Commercial Workers union want Parson to issue an order requiring shoppers to wear protective face covers while in stores.

They’re on the front lines of the food and supply lines, but thousands of grocery store workers are concerned for their safety.

“Their major concern is their protection,” said David Cook, president of the union.

He also worries if workers go down, stores could be forced to close.

“They are being exposed to thousands of general public on the daily basis,” Cook said.

Cook said without these thousands of essential workers, Missourians wouldn’t be eating, getting critical medicine and other needed services.

That’s why he said they need to be protected.

“Are they going to be infected with this terrible virus? Are they going to take this virus home?” he said.

On Wednesday, the union sent a letter, calling on Parson to require face masks or some kind of cover.

The letter also asked the governor to declare grocery store workers as temporary first responders while calling for expanded access to testing and personal protective equipment.

Shoppers that FOX4 talked to were mixed on the idea of covering up at the store.

“Face masks aren’t available right now, so it really be unfair,” one shopper said.

Others were more favorable.

“There’s a lot of people that are wearing masks and making their own,” another said. “I don’t have one. It’s not a good excuse, but I think everyone should wear them.”

“At this point, I would be all for it,” a supportive customer said. “Anything we can do to end this quicker and protect these people.”

Cook said it’s a matter of protecting those on the front lines.

“If there is an outbreak and goes from person to person in that store, my question is, what does that poor community do?” he asked.

Parson said he plans to leave the decision up to the chains.

Cook said one chain in eastern Missouri is strongly considering making it a requirement. Hy-Vee said it has provided masks for workers but will follow CDC guidelines or any state orders.

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