Coronavirus (COVID-19) has the entire nation and world on high alert and with more than 1600 cases in the United States, and more than 450 cases in Washington state alone. While no one knows how severe this outbreak will be, as a Seattle-based brand, we are diligently taking all precautions to protect our employees and our consumers, who we consider to be extensions of our Ellenos family. We are also taking measures to protect the best interest of our Seattle community.
As an omnichannel brand, we face unique hurdles. We own and operate two beloved yogurt scoop shops in the greater Seattle area, including our flagship Pike Place Market location. We also have a line of packaged yogurts available in 29 states and counting, along with online distribution through direct-to-consumer channels such as Amazon. In addition, unlike many other brands within this space, we operate our own manufacturing facility in Federal Way, where our team members make fresh yogurt daily. On all of these fronts, health and safety are our top priority, and we are doing everything within our power to protect our employees, our consumers, and our community during this uncertain time.
In light of the recent outbreak, we as a team have spent a considerable amount of time reviewing all health agency reports and advice from a host of reputable authorities based in the United States and abroad to ensure we are setting up the best practices to keep our teams and consumers healthy. As a result, we are laser-focused on three key issues. First and foremost, we are focused on maintaining a safe workplace and adopting practices to protect the health of our team, our customers and anyone visiting our facilities. Second, we want to ensure our yogurt-making operations continue in the event that the situation should worsen and, finally, we always aim to protect the integrity of our product and brand. Ellenos is a family-founded business, and we continue to run our business as such. It is our priority to make sure our team and our customers stay safe and healthy as we maneuver through this turbulent situation.
Like many other Seattle-based businesses including Amazon, Microsoft and Boeing, we are halting all non-essential travel, requiring all non-essential employees to work from home, and setting up various Fit-For-Work screenings for those who do need to come into work. In addition to these measures, we have placed additional alcohol-based hand sanitizers throughout the workplace and in common areas, and we have assigned and/or hired additional temporary team members to continuously clean and sanitize our facilities. We are also providing our teams with resources via a “Health & Safety at Ellenos – COVID-19 Education and Resources” employee portal where team members can find company updates, information, and resources.
For team members needing to physically report to work, our Fit-For-Work protocol requires them to visit a check-in station when they arrive for their respective shifts to undergo a self-administered assessment. This protocol is currently being administered to all employees entering our facilities and includes non-invasive body temperature checks and a series of general questions regarding each individual’s’ state of health. This will ensure no employees will enter our facilities if they are not feeling 100% well.
Today we are also announcing a temporary closure of our scoop shop locations as well as our sister store, Corner Produce. The wellbeing of our employees and customers is our main priority, and as a member of our beloved Seattle-Tacoma community, we are committed to doing our part to stem the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
We are so proud of and thankful for our hourly employees across our entire organization. They are our greatest asset and therefore, to ensure their economic wellbeing, we are committed to offsetting their wages for lost time as a direct result of our efforts to curtail the spread of the virus. This policy will remain in effect until the crisis has passed and we resume normal operations.
The situation we face, along with so many businesses in Seattle and beyond, is a complex one. However, we believe that open communication and a proactive approach is appropriate and reflects our values as an organization. I am confident that by working together and helping each other, both inside and outside our organization, we will not only prevail in this challenging situation, but we will emerge even stronger.