Businesses dealing in essentials, including grocery store chains, internet providers, and utilities, are pledging to keep their services and products available even as precautions intended to curtail the spread of the coronavirus upend most other parts of daily life.
Eversource Energy said it is putting off all non-essential maintenance work that would require temporarily cutting power to customers. The utility is also curbing “non-critical field work” in its gas operations that would require access to homes or businesses, as a means to reduce person-to-person contact.
Eversource has also said it will postpone disconnection of service for nonpayment.
The Connecticut Water Service, parent company of the Connecticut Water Co., is taking a similar approach.
In a statement, the water supplier said it is rescheduling all non-essential service appointments and will continue to deliver water even to households and businesses that have fallen behind on their bills.
“Connecticut Water has suspended shutoffs for nonpayment until further notice so that all customers will continue to have tap water for hand-washing and other hygiene needs to protect their health from the coronavirus,” the statement read. “As always, we will work with customers on payment arrangements if they are having trouble making full payment for their water service at this time.”
Major supermarket chains announced they are adjusting store hours to give employees more time to restock store shelves stripped bare by panicked buying over the past two weeks and to clean high-contact surfaces, such as checkout belts and touch screens.
Mona Golub, vice president of public relations and consumer services at Price Chopper, said the company will close locations at 1 a.m. and reopen at 6 a.m., a break from its well-known 24-hour model.
The change is temporary, Golub said, but there is currently no timeline for when stores will resume normal hours.
Starting today, Stop & Shop’s hours have been adjusted to 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. The chain has also suspended pickup service for online orders due to “unprecedented demand” and product shortages in some markets.
Walmart announced Saturday that stores that are normally open 24 hours will be open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Stores that already operated on reduced hours would maintain those, the chain said.
ShopRite said certain products, including disinfectant cleaners and wipes, bar and liquid soaps, water, over-the-counter cough medicine, and other “key categories” are now limited to a purchase of two per customer. In addition, home deliveries from ShopRite will not be handed directly to customers; instead, grocery orders will be left unattended at customers’ doors to reduce the risk of spreading disease.
As a growing number of businesses and schools go digital, internet service providers are also stepping up efforts to make their services more widely useable.
Comcast said it is now offering new customers 60 days of complimentary internet service and increasing Internet speeds from 15/2 Mbps to 25/3 Mbps for all new and existing customers.
AT&T and Spectrum have both said they will keep their wireless internet hotspots open and free to use for the duration of the coronavirus crisis and will not cut off service because of a customer’s inability to pay.
AT&T, Comcast, T-Mobile, and Sprint are also lifting data caps for cellphone subscribers for 60 days.
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