The health department of Calvert County, Maryland, has asked residents to grocery shop only on certain days, based on their last names, to combat the spread of coronavirus.
"Chronic overcrowding" has become an issue in grocery and convenience stores, so residents are now asked to grocery shop no more than one every five days. Residents were asked to "voluntarily limit" their shopping to certain days based on their last names:
- Last name starting with A-C shop on dates ending with 0 and 5
- Last name starting with D-G shop on dates ending with 1 and 6
- Last name starting with H-L shop on dates ending with 2 and 7
- Last name starting with M-R shop on dates ending with 3 and 8
- Last name starting with S-Z shop on dates ending with 4 and 9
"Going to the grocery store has shifted from an occasional trip to get necessities to a frequent excuse for getting out of the house," the health department said.
Coronavirus Cases in DC, Maryland and Virginia
COVID-19 cases by population in D.C. and by county in Maryland and Virginia
Stores must limit their occupancy to five people per 1,000 square feet. Under that rule, the average American grocery store could accommodate about 205 people at once, according to food industry data.
The move is in line with efforts private companies like Walmart and Giant have made to honor social distancing rules put in place by the state, the health department said.
Calvert County is also asking all residents to wear face masks when they grocery shop.
The county reports 99 diagnosed coronavirus cases.
CLARIFICATION (April 15, 3:39 p.m. ET): This story has been updated to clarify that the Calvert County Health Department suggested but did not require limiting grocery shopping based on one’s last name.