Ice cream trucks are rolling in N.J., but with some new coronavirus rules


Warm weather blanketed New Jersey during a pristine spring weekend, just as Gov. Phil Murphy reopened the state’s parks and golf courses.

As people sought the freedom of the outdoors, a familiar jingle accompanied them.

Mister Softee ice cream trucks hit the streets, hoping to provide families with a cold treat on an ideal day. But as the summer continues to approach and ice cream trucks enter their busy season, they’re doing so under new guidelines because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Dave Skow, the owner of a Mister Softee truck in Medford, worked his first weekend of the year on Saturday and Sunday, and his truck featured new signs encouraging social distancing for customers and listing new safety procedures for Mister Softee trucks.

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Employees’ temperatures are taken before a shift, and anyone with a fever above 100.4 degrees is sent home. Employees wear masks and gloves, while changing gloves after each transaction. Trucks are cleaned at the start of the day and continuously throughout a shift.

New safety procedures listed on Mister Softee ice cream trucks during the coronavirus pandemic.Photo courtesy of Dave Skow

Corporate Mister Softee and the franchise owners agreed in March to close all trucks while accessing protocols. Ice cream trucks, like liquor stores and fast-food restaurants, are considered essential businesses in New Jersey, so the trucks were able to launch when the company and owners felt comfortable and safe doing so.

“We voluntarily stopped operations to make sure that we are bringing ice cream to the public in the safest manner in which they can get it,” Skow said. “They do not have to drive to a store, go inside, and encounter groups of people in a confined area in order to get a treat for themselves or their families. Instead, they can listen for the jingle, or download our app and see exactly when the truck is in their neighborhood so they can just step outside their house and get served by one person who is practicing safety protocols.”

Ice cream trucks are typically a cash-only business, but Skow said Mister Softee has started offering electronic payment options, adding another layer of safety for employees and customers.

“We are now accepting credit cards so that customers have that choice when coming to the truck,” he said. ‘In addition, our employees will accept cash only while wearing gloves and at the end of the transaction so that no food is handled with contaminated gloves — again, keeping the safety of the employee and the customer in mind.”

When Skow worked last weekend, he said customers weren’t hesitant to order from the truck.

“It was clear that people were excited for our reentry and a glimpse of normalcy in such a difficult time,” Skow said. “Over the weekend, the weather was beautiful, and both the employees and the customers were excited to be back. It was a great weekend. It was nice to see people dancing, jumping, and smiling at seeing the truck again.”

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Chris Ryan may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @ChrisRyan_NJ.

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