GROTON, Conn. - Naval Submarine Base New London (SUBASE) Sailors are helping support safe and efficient shopping at the base Commissary, as store patrons continue to adhere to COVID-19 mitigation measures.
“The safety of patrons, dedicated staff, and our military community as a whole is one of our biggest concerns during this pandemic,” said SUBASE Command Master Chief Raj Sodhi.
“Base and Commissary leadership have implemented a number of virus mitigation measures, and I knew Sailors could be a big help with the protocols and process.”
The team of 16 Sailors, dubbed by Sodhi as the COVID-19 Commissary Coordination Division (3CD), has been trained both in standard virus mitigation measures as well as in the basics of good customer service.
“I’m really impressed with the team,” said Sodhi. “They are dedicated in their work in front of, and behind the scenes, to keep everybody safe.”
3CD Sailors do everything from checking IDs and keeping the lines moving to pushing carts.
“I think that everything we’re doing is the command's way of showing that this is being taken very seriously,” said Culinary Specialist 1st Class Oran Alexander, a member of the 3CD. “SUBASE New London isn’t only trying to make the base safe, but also trying to make sure everyone on or visiting the base feels safe to be here.”
Of course, as most people, especially those visiting SUBASE, associate the Navy with protection and security, the uniformed members of the 3CD contribute to feelings of trust, confidence, and caring.
“I think the patrons like to see people in uniform here,” said Chief Enginemen Bradley Bruns. “I think it puts them at ease knowing that it’s safe and we’re here.”
The mitigation measures to promote patron health and safety at the Commissary have evolved during the pandemic.
“Based on command assessments and patron feedback, SUBASE and the Commissary instituted a number of measures that maximize the opportunity for everyone to get what they need effectively and efficiently, while also protecting everyone involved,” said Sodhi.
Measures currently consist of:
Face coverings are required for ALL patrons and staff.
There is a single point of entry and exit. A 3CD Sailor at the door will check IDs; ensure all patrons are wearing facial coverings; and, limit the number of patrons in the store.
Employing physical distancing, patrons wait in a line outside the door for their turn to enter the store. Once inside: materials may be available for patrons to sanitize their cart; store aisles are one-way; floor decals highlight physical distancing at checkout; and plexiglass partitions enhance safe interactions between patrons and cashiers.
There are no baggers; no Early Bird operations; and, no re-useable bags nor visitors or guests are allowed in the store. Only patrons with a valid government issued military, retiree or dependent ID card are authorized to enter and shop at the Commissary until further notice.
Additionally, until further notice, the Commissary and 3CD will enforce daily shopping periods for specific patron categories:
· 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.: DAV - Disabled American Veterans; Military Retirees; and, Military Spouses;
· 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.: Active Duty Military Members Only;
· 2 p.m. to Closing: Open to all Authorized Patron Categories, including Reserve and National Guard Military Members, and Authorized SUBASE First Responders.
“These are troubling times, so I do ask that everybody continue to be patient, courteous, and understanding,” said Sodhi. “As patrons do their part and our 3CD Sailors do their part, Navy Team New London can do its part. And as Captain Moore, our SUBASE Commanding Officer, puts it: carefully balance personal safety with our enduring need to support the Submarine Force mission.”
Commissary Store hours are: Monday - Closed; Tuesday – 9 a.m.to 7 p.m.; Wednesday – 9 a.m.to 7 p.m.; Thursday – 9 a.m.to 8 p.m.; Friday – 9 a.m.to 7 p.m.; Saturday – 9 a.m.to 6 p.m.; Sunday – 10 a.m.to 5 p.m.
“Some SUBASE Good News” (SSGN) is an effort to provide uplifting stories about the personnel, programs, and initiatives that help make Naval Submarine Base New London, “The First and Finest.”