As the coronavirus pandemic tore through the Northeast this spring, DeCicco & Sons, a family-owned chain of nine stores located in the suburbs of New York City, quickly became a model of how to operate a business during COVID-19. They were among the first businesses in the country to implement extensive customer and employee safety protocols, many of which later became government-mandated.
Part of the urgency with which DeCicco & Sons approached the pandemic was no doubt personal. In the earliest days of COVID-19, the DeCicco family was hearing from their relatives in Italy about the virus’s rapid spread and deadly implications. Luisa DeCicco, the company’s head of human resources, was speaking daily to her sister, a doctor on the front lines in a hospital in the Puglia region of Italy, about the true devastation of the disease, as well as the practices needed to reduce its transmission. Luisa and her husband John DeCicco Jr., the company’s CEO, heeded these warnings, and wasted no time in translating the precautions being taken by the healthcare system into safeguards for their stores, their employees and patrons.
Here in the United States, the chain says it was among the very first to require all employees to wear masks and personal protective equipment (PPE), as well as installing plexiglass checkout barriers, establishing special shopping hours for seniors and vulnerable individuals, and limiting the number of shoppers inside the store, as they…
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