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Supermarket employees in Minnesota and Vermont just got classed as coronavirus ‘emergency workers’

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Hannah-Rose Yee
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Clerks at grocery stores in the two American states will now receive the same benefits as frontline responders during the coronavirus pandemic. This is why that classification matters so much. 

Have you been to the grocery store recently? If you have, most likely it was bedlam.

As panic-buying and hoarding sweep both the US and the UK, supermarket employees have been subjected to verbal and physical abuse from customers, all while trying to keep the shelves stocked and the supplies moving so that everyone can be prepared for coronavirus related self-isolation or quarantine.

Here at Stylist, we are so grateful for the work that supermarket employees are doing in their communities. It’s why we penned an open letter to every single one of them and their tireless work yesterday. And it’s why we’re applauding the news out of the US that two states have reclassified grocery store employees as “emergency workers” during the coronavirus pandemic.

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Now, in both Minnesota and Vermont, supermarket employees are officially “essential tier 2 workers”. And what this means is that, alongside other emergency personnel and frontline responders, grocery workers will receive childcare so that they can continue going to work.

This is a crucial move that only recognises the sacrifices being done by supermarket employees to keep servicing the public in the middle of this pandemic. Grocery store workers cannot stay home and do their job remotely. In order for the supermarkets to stay open, they have to go to work. And they are putting themselves at risk to do so.

It’s why Minnesota’s Governor Tim Walz wanted to classify these personnel as “emergency workers”, giving them extra rights and benefits alongside other frontline responders. Also classified as emergency workers are those providing the childcare being offered to these frontline responders.

“Care for children of educators, gas and electric utility workers, food distribution personnel, water treatment staff, and others outlined below is essential to ensuring the public continues to receive these vital services,” the new executive order reads.

“Districts should make every effort to provide care for school-age children of workers in the areas below, if they are able to do so while adhering to the Minnesota Department of Health’s social distancing guidelines.”

This move needs to be replicated across the US and the UK. It’s crucial now, more than ever, that we recognise the work being done by supermarket employees to provide us all with essential food and goods. Without them, society would fall apart.

Images: Unsplash

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Hannah-Rose Yee

Hannah-Rose Yee is a writer based in London. You can find her on the internet talking about movies, television and Chris Pine.

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