Fort Knox Exchange installs protective shields to continue serving customers safely

Linda Philpot (left) and Luis Lleras provide customer service behind the Plexiglas shields hanging from the ceiling. Members of the marketing team constructed the shields from existing materials and, with the help of maintenance staff, mounted each to according to specifications. (Photo courtesy of Ellen Henderson, Fort Knox Exchange)
March 27, 2020

The Army & Air Force Exchange Service facilities that remain open to customers at Fort Knox, Kentucky, have a new feature designed to safeguard the lives of customers and employees.

Completed March 27, several clear protective shields now hang or are mounted at key locations where customers and employees interact. The shields provide a barrier to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the area.

“Given the course of COVID-19 spreading in [the Continental U.S.], the Exchange felt it was prudent to be out in front on this to help keep both customers and our staff safe,” said Ellen Henderson, Fort Knox’s AAFES manager.

Fort Knox began installing the shields March 25, after discussing ideas with region leadership, who asked Henderson to take steps to put them in place. Shields were first installed at all Express/shoppettes and branch facilities — such as military clothing and Class 6 stores — before finalizing installation at operating facilities within the main Exchange.

Henderson explained the social distancing requirement is the driving force behind the shields.

“The shields will offer social distance to both sales staff and customers at point of service and checkout when the nature of the service requires both staff and customers to be closer than 6 feet,” said Henderson.

Henderson said the idea for the shields came from best practices implemented at European AAFES locations. With the outbreak of the coronavirus in the United States in January, Fort Knox managers realized they already had what they needed for the shields on-hand — Plexiglas.

“The Exchange typically uses such Plexiglas in signing elements to hold in paper signs; using existing Plexiglas for a different purpose that may prevent the spread of germs was a quick transition,” said Henderson.

The marketing staff members quickly converted the sheets of plastic glass into shields and they and the maintenance staff hung them.

Henderson asked shoppers to observe social distancing within facilities, avoid lingering after making purchases to limit the number of people in the buildings, and not to touch or move the shields.

“The shields are providing peace of mind for our employees,” said Henderson, “who are continuing to report to work to serve our customers during these stressful times.”