UPDATE, Apr. 12GMW has not received any answer from store management, despite repeated requests for comment.

First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice also emailed the following statement on Friday evening, April 10:  “Health Director Barry Bogle was at Caraluzzi’s this morning up to the time of opening, at which point they had addressed his specific instructions. To clarify, it wasn’t that Caraluzzi was disregarding all the requirements, but rather there were specific actions Barry instructed them to take when he visited the store the day before.

“I want to remind residents that the Governor ordered stores operate at one-half their capacity. Again, if you arrive at the parking lot and it is even close to one-half full, please don’t park and go into the store. Instead, go home and come back later or the next day at a different time. Call the store and ask about times that are less busy than others. When you are in the store follow the rules of the Governor’s Executive Order, including honoring the one-way aisles and keep six feet between yourself and others while in line to check-out.” 

ORIGINAL STORY, Friday, Apr. 10–After hearing from several Wilton residents with concerns that Caraluzzi’s Georgetown Market was not complying with the Governor’s Safe Store Directives to limit the spread of COVID-19, town officials told managers at the store they must comply–now.

On Thursday April 2, Gov. Ned Lamont issued new regulations for supermarkets to follow in order to protect the health of shoppers and employees. The rules became effective Friday, April 3. Since then, GOOD Morning Wilton has been told by multiple people who have shopped at Caraluzzi’s that one week after the governor’s directive, the rules still were not being followed there.

Residents also reached out to First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice with the same concerns. Late Thursday night, GOOD Morning Wilton learned that Vanderslice had asked Wilton’s Health Director Barry Bogle to investigate earlier in the day.

“I received an email Wednesday, April 8, and then I received two today [Thursday, April 9]. The health director was there late this afternoon and met with the manager. Customers should be experiencing a better and more compliant experience tomorrow [Friday, April 10],” Vanderslice confirmed.

Lamont’s Safe Store directives spell out several specific steps markets needed to implement:

  • Cap occupancy at 50% of store capacity.
  • Clearly mark 6-ft. spacing in lines on floor at checkout and other high-traffic areas, and encourage 6-ft. spacing in lines outside the store.
  • Post conspicuous signage and floor markings to direct customers and limit bottlenecks and/or encourage spacing and flow in high-density areas.
  • Have store aisles be one-way where practicable
  • Maximize space between customers and employees at checkout lines, including, but not limited to, only using every other checkout line, where and when possible.
  • Install Plexiglas shields to separate employees from customers at checkout lines
  • Communicate with customers that there should only be one person per household during shopping trips, whenever possible.
  • Discontinue all self-serve foods (e.g., salad bar, olive bar) and product sampling.
  • Allow “touchless” credit card transactions. If not possible, sanitize credit card machines (including pen) regularly and consistently.
  • Staff should sanitize cart and basket handles between uses
  • Wherever possible, employees will wear gloves and face masks at all times that they are interacting with customers and/or handling products.

On April 7, a GMW reader commented on an article that Caraluzzi’s was not following the directives, as of that morning.

“I can say without a doubt they are not following the safe store directives:  there was no signage or direction for one way traffic, aisles were clogged with people stocking, people shopping in both directions, etc. There was nobody sanitizing the carts/baskets between uses nor any provision of wipes with which shoppers could do so themselves. The cashiers do not appear to have been provided masks although they have added the plexiglass shields.”

Multiple shoppers confirmed what the reader described, both on that same day and as recently as Thursday.

One shopper told GMW that she had visited the store on Thursday, April 9. “No one was wearing the mask or gloves, even the workers stocking the shelves. Other than me maybe five people had PPE,” she wrote, and confirmed that there were no one-way aisles nor was the store limiting the number of people allowed to be in the store at one time. “Stop & Shop [had] shut down [the] deli, Caraluzzi’s was open. They did divide up traffic at check-out but no cleaning between customers.”

GOOD Morning Wilton reached out to Caraluzzi’s management through the store’s website for comment and will continue to follow up.

The store’s website lists steps it says have been taken at all three of the stores owned by the Caraluzzi family of Bethel. It lists special hours for senior-only shopping and describes sanitizing procedures and protections, among others, it says the stores have implemented.

As of Thursday night, Vanderslice had connected only briefly with Bogle before having to attend the tri-board meeting, so she did not hear what reason the Caraluzzi’s manager had told Bogle as to why the store was not yet in compliance.

“But he let me know that he met with the manager and we should see compliance Friday,” she said, adding that she’d find out more at a regularly scheduled meeting of the Emergency Operations Committee on Friday morning. She also said she expects Bogle will revisit the store Friday to follow up.

“It is critical that the workers in the grocery stores and the other retail establishment be safe, and it’s critical that the shoppers be safe. We all have to work together to make sure that happens,” Vanderslice said.

The town hasn’t seen any other compliance issues in Wilton, and that both Stop and Shop and the Village Market have done what was required, Vanderslice confirmed.

“The members of the health department have gone out and spoken with various businesses and they’ve met with the longterm care facilities and reviewed their plans. Certainly there’s been interaction and review of the procedures at the longterm care facilities and the grocery stores and various businesses in town,” she noted.

Any residents who have further concerns about any Wilton store can contact Vanderslice or Bogle.

“Absolutely. Email me. If you email the health department, copy me and I’ll confirm it gets to Barry.”