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Mandate Curbside Grocery Pickup, Lawmakers Tell Baker

A volunteer from the Chelsea Collaborative picks up an eggplant to be placed into orders for local residents to pick up at the Pan Y Cafe in Carey Sq. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
A volunteer from the Chelsea Collaborative picks up an eggplant to be placed into orders for local residents to pick up at the Pan Y Cafe in Carey Sq. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Forty-two state lawmakers wrote to Gov. Charlie Baker on Wednesday, asking him to follow an order limiting occupancy at grocery stores with another step they say would help reduce COVID-19 risks for both grocery workers and shoppers.

The email to Baker asks him to order outdoor, curbside pickup be available at grocery stores that already offer online ordering and delivery, and to encourage other grocers to offer curbside pickup service. Such a service, the lawmakers said, would be open to all customers, including those using EBT cards.

"Curbside payment would benefit all households (those with and without EBT cards), especially as it becomes more difficult for stores to offer delivery services, to participate equally with other customers in a safe manner to procure groceries without the need to enter the store," the letter said. "We believe such an order would be consistent with the goals of your recent Executive Orders as it would further limit customer traffic in grocery stores and reduce possible exposures inside grocery stores, while still ensuring access to essential groceries."

Guidance from the Department of Public Health on April 8 required grocery stores — except those with a maximum occupancy of less than 25 people — to cap their occupancy at 40% of the maximum, including both shoppers and staff.

The lawmakers also voiced support for efforts to participate in an online EBT purchasing pilot, which they said would allow Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program recipients to "to join other customers to avoid stores completely."

Led by Rep. Jay Livingstone, the letter is signed by 40 House and Senate Democrats and Rep. Susannah Whipps, the Legislature's only unenrolled member.

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