Coronavirus: Loblaws stores place markers to ensure social distancing

As many people around the world practice social distancing, grocery stores remain crowded, as people prepare for a potential quarantine.

One of Canada’s largest grocers, Loblaws, announced Friday that it will begin several precautionary measures to limit the spread of COVID-19.

The executive chairman of the company, Galen Weston, released a video on Twitter saying that Loblaws stores are reducing hours to allow its staff time for extra sanitization and rest.

Weston continued to say that stores will open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., with the first hour dedicated to seniors and those with disabilities.

Aside from that, Weston is implementing a limit on the number of customers allowed in Loblaws’ busiest stores in an attempt to increase social distancing.

At the two Kingston, Ont., Loblaws locations, staff were seen labelling two-metre markers with blue and duct tape in front of the checkout and telling customers to stand behind each marker.

Global News spoke to several customers inside the Princess Street and Sir. John A. MacDonald location and many were pleased with the health and safety adjustments.

“I think it’s great to see companies take this step and put our health as a priority,” said Cassidy Van Stiphaut as she waited in line to pay for her groceries.

“I think it’s a great idea, and it’s nice to see people on board with it,” said Paul Gornsey.

The feeling, however, wasn’t mutual for one Loblaws shopper.

“I think it’s pointless,” said Andrew Hayes, and when asked why he believes it’s pointless, he answered with, “I don’t think a five-foot gap won’t make any difference.”

Canada’s public health agency defines social distancing as steps to “minimize close contact” with people in the community, such as “quarantine or self-isolation at the individual level,” along with broader steps such as avoiding crowds.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises people to stay two metres from one another as a precautionary measure against COVID-19.

In an emailed statement, Weston said when the aisles are jam-packed, giving people the appropriate amount of space is just too difficult. High-volume stores will open every other checkout lane to encourage social distancing.

The stores will also be eliminating loose or bulk items in some locations, and some service departments, such as seafood, will pre-package products.

“Food sampling, removed beauty testers in Shoppers Drug Mart and suspended cosmetic services like makeovers and skincare consultations. We are also encouraging you to use debit or credit as much as possible. In short, the less touching, the better,” said Weston.

Lastly, Loblaws will waive the $0.05 plastic bag fee to discourage the use of reusable bags.

These changes were put in place on Friday, Nov. 20 and will continue until further notice.

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