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March 20, 2020

Wawa implements changes to prevent coronavirus spread in stores – which remain open

The convenience chain will no longer allows self-service for coffee and other beverages

Wawa Coronavirus
Wawa open coffee coronavirus Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

Amid the coronavirus outbreak, Wawa is stopping its self-service of coffee and other drinks, and bakery items. Instead these items will be prepared by employees. Wawa stores also will now close for one hour overnight for additional cleaning. The convenience store remains open as a life-sustaining business outlined by Gov. Tom Wolf yesterday.

Wawa is still open, but in an effort to control coronavirus spread, stores are changing to no longer allow self-serve drinks, including coffee, iced coffee, fountain drinks, cappuccinos, and Icee drinks.

Employees will serve these beverages to customers, instead. Bakery products also will be wrapped and handed to customers, and Wawa is adding extra cleaning hours to their locations.

LATEST: Wawa stops made-to-order food service in Philly stores

Stores also will be briefly closing overnight each day for cleaning. From 2-3 a.m. every night, Wawa's will be closed for "additional store cleaning, sanitation, and stocking." Prior to these changes, Wawa had kept up its 24-hour service. 

The company announced the changes Thursday in a release and the new procedures take Friday. The announcement follows an order from Gov. Tom Wolf on Thursday that only "life-sustaining" businesses can remain open, a quick change from allowing "essential" businesses to remain open. A list of the Pennsylvania businesses permitted and not permitted to stay open during the COVID-19 outbreak can be found here.

Wawa is a food retailer, and is allowed to remain open as a life-sustaining business, or now. The new measures to limit contamination of high-touch surfaces and items, and touching among employees and customers, both which can cause the spread of coronavirus. 

RELATED: Wawa announces free coffee for health care workers, first responders during coronavirus pandemic

The changes also follow a message from the Camden County Freeholder board, who earlier this week addressed the dangers of self-serve beverage counters, and Wawa's set-up in spreading disease. 

"Crowded playgrounds and shoulder-to-shoulder lines pouring coffee at Wawa and 7-Eleven are not acceptable, if we are going to get through this," Freeholder Director Louis Cappelli Jr. said. "We want to remind everyone that they should be staying home as much as they can and avoiding contact with others when possible."

Most other coffee shops across Pennsylvania do not fall under the protection of "life-sustaining" or "essential," and have been closed for days now.

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