FALL RIVER — Hours after Gov. Charlie Baker said he was suspending the sale of recreational marijuana by noon Tuesday as the state deals with the coronavirus pandemic, a line at dispensary Northeast Altervatives backed out onto the street Monday as workers donning gloves and masks directed traffic.
Closing all “non-essential” businesses in the state, Baker is allowing medical marijuana to remain available.
But before Baker announced his latest restrictions, the William S. Canning Boulevard dispensary had already taken steps to keep customers safe.
More than a week ago, Northeast Alternatives CEO Chris Harkins instituted new sanitary standards at the popular business near the Rhode Island border, which will remain open for medical sales.
Initially, more than 22 people, including 11 staff members, were allowed inside the dispensary at one time.
Director of Security Operations Jared Gosselin, wearing gloves and a black mask, said that over the weekend, the number of customers allowed inside was cut nearly in half.
Workers are required to wear gloves and masks in the retail and packing areas, and the business stockpiled alcohol for cleaning.
“Every half-hour, we pause and wipe down the floor and any touch surfaces,” said Harkins.
The company also purchased an air sanitation system for $15,000.
The packaging on products that come in from outside is sprayed down.
Outside, along the walkway to the building where patrons wait to enter the dispensary, painted footprints mark the spots, 6 feet apart, where people are permitted to stand, per social distancing suggestions.
Harkins said the business has added staff outside to monitor the waiting customers.
“It may sound over the top but we’d rather be over the top than behind the curve,” said Harkins.
Gosselin said that with the governor’s new restriction on recreational marijuana sales, the business likely will reassess staffling levels.
Hope Heal Heath, the city’s other recreational marijuana vendor, did not respond to a request for comment.
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