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With plexiglass panels now installed in checkout lanes, HyVee cashier Sklar Ruhe takes a moment to disinfect a credit-card reader before taking care of her next customer. The panels were installed to give enhanced protection for both customers and workers at the Grand Island grocery store. (Independent/Barrett Stinson)

Employees of two supermarket chains are getting bonuses as a reward for the frantic work they’ve been doing since the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic.

Hy-Vee is giving an employee appreciation bonus to all of its part-time and full-time store employees. The bonuses are a $10 million commitment to employees and will be paid out on April 17, a news release stated.

B&R Stores of Lincoln, which owns the two Grand Island Super Saver stores, is also rewarding its employees.

“We’re taking great care of our people throughout this,” Mark Griffin, president of B&R Stores, said Thursday.

Griffin said the company’s employees will receive a bonus in their next two paychecks.

“We run two-week pay periods,” he said. All employees will find an extra $100 in their paychecks Friday. “And then in two weeks, when they’re paid again, they also will receive an extra $100.”

The bonus will be paid to every employee “up and down the line, with the exception of the executives in the company,” Griffin said. B&R owns 20 stores. In addition to the Grand Island Super Saver stores, the company also operates Russ’s Market in Hastings.

Hy-Vee and Super Saver are also taking numerous steps to keep customers and employees safe.

On Tuesday, the Grand Island Hy-Vee installed small plexiglass panels at each check stand, separating the cashiers from customers.

Signs at each checkout state, “Temporary window panels been installed for the well-being of our customers and employees.”

The barriers are being added to every Hy-Vee in the company’s eight-state territory, because the checkout is where customers and employees are in closest contact.

Similar panels will be installed in all B&R stores by the end of next week, Griffin said.

The two companies are also paying attention to cleanliness.

“Right now we have sanitizing wipes that are available for customer use. They’re at all of our entrances, as well as hand sanitizer stations located throughout all of our stores,” said Steve Barry, manager of perishables at the Grand Island Hy-Vee.

In addition, “Employees are sanitizing carts all day and we are pressure-washing carts at night,” Barry said.

The B&R stores are taking similar measures.

The company is using hospital-grade disinfectant. Employees “spray all of our carts twice a day. Not only the handles of the carts — the entire cart — with that disinfectant spray, twice a day,” Griffin said.

That spray is safe, he said. In fact, “the carts might be a little damp with that disinfectant, but that’s fine.”

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