Alibaba’s fresh food chain Freshippo said on Saturday it has suspended operations at 21 of its Shenzhen stores to disinfect stores and perform nucleic acid tests for all employees and fresh products after a store staff member tested positive for COVID-19.
“The health and safety of consumers and employees comes first,” Freshippo said in a statement. “All Freshippo employees in Shenzhen, as well as fresh food products at the stores, will undergo nucleic acid testing. All test results will be formally announced by the government.”
A 41-year-old female yogurt salesperson who worked at the IBC mall Freshippo store, in Shenzhen’s Luohu District, tested positive for the virus on Friday, the Shenzhen municipal health commission reported. The IBC Mall was sealed on Friday evening, with around 200 people waiting outside for COVID-19 tests from medical personnel in protective suits, Reuters reported.
Local authorities said on Sunday that they had tested 48 units province-wide including 36 Freshippo outlets and 12 related warehouses and processing enterprises, where two more brand promoters of Freshippo who were asymptomatic also tested positive for the virus. The provincial health commission said it would offer free nucleic acid tests to people who had visited Freshippo from July 24.
““Thank you for your understanding, cooperation and trust. We are deeply sorry for the inconvenience,” Freshippo said. “In the face of this continuing challenge, we will try out best to fight against even the slightest health threat!”
Freshippo, known as Hema in China, is Alibaba’s most successful example of New Retail, which combines 30-minute online delivery and in-store shopping by a digitized retail chain. Unlike traditional grocery stores, online purchases constitute 60% of Freshippo’s gross merchandise sales. Founded in 2015, Freshippo has expanded to 207 stores in more than 20 cities in China.