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Metcalfe’s uses technology to improve social distancing in stores

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metcalfe's social distancing

MADISON (WKOW) -- With social distancing becoming commonplace during the coronavirus pandemic, many have complained about the amount of people in grocery and big box stores.

But Friday new regulations kicked in.

"As Governor Evers put out the social distancing requests, he also put out, for certain size stores, what they need from an occupancy perspective," Kevin Metcalfe said.

Under the new requirements, smaller stores like Metcalfe's have to limit the amount of people in their stores to 25 percent of their maximum occupancy. Bigger stores are allowed four people per 1000 square feet of customer space.

"We went down to 150 people per store, which puts us closer to the 16-17 percent," Metcalfe said.

Keeping track of that by hand is one solution, but to accurately track customers, they're teaming up with Milwaukee company Scanalytics.

They will be providing high tech mats and software to track how many people are inside.

It will then send info to Metcalfe's website so people can see remotely when it's safe to go inside.

"We don't want people outside queuing, so they can be in their car and see on their phones that, oh Metcalfe's has their occupancy down," Metcalfe said.

The store says there are no privacy concerns with this new system because it won't be actively tracking people inside the store and isn't connected to phone information. The only data it takes in is the direction you walk through the door.

It will also be able to compile trends to give people an idea of when it would be best to go to the store.

If it all works well, this technology might be in place long after the coronavirus passes.

"We don't know what the new norm is going to be. I think it's important that we maintain our social distancing, even beyond when the stay at home order is lifted," Metcalfe said.

The mats will be installed Wednesday in Madison.

Metcalfe's and Scanalytics have worked together before, using the mats during Bratfest.

Francisco Almenara

Reporter, WKOW

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