March 20, 2020
Loblaws and Sobeys announce new COVID-19 protections
Loblaws and Sobeys have announced a number of new safety measures they are introducing to protect employees and customers from the COVID-19 virus. (see below)
“This is a really stressful time to be working in the stores,” says Dan Goodman, Secretary-Treasurer of UFCW Local 247, “and we ask members to continue doing all they can to keep themselves safe and healthy.”
“The latest information we have from Loblaws and Safeway indicates the companies are taking some good steps to improve employee and customer safety,” says Goodman.
“In particular,” says Goodman, “it’s good to see Loblaws take the initiative to start controlling the number of customers in the stores at any one time.”
Plexiglass barriers for Cashiers
Suzanne Hodge, President of UFCW Local 247, says, “Both Loblaws and Sobeys have begun installing plexiglass shields to protect Cashiers from contact with customers.”
“We do not yet know which stores will be installing these shields first,” adds Hodge, “but the companies advise that they are installing plexiglass shields as soon as possible.”
“As everyone has experienced, this crisis is a fast-moving situation, and the planning to make these improvements is ongoing,” says Hodge. “We hope these sorts of protections are in place promptly – the more being done to protect members working in the stores, the better.”
- Customer Limits: Loblaws advises they will limit the number of customers in over 1,000 of their busiest stores as of March 20, 2020. The company will monitor the number of people who come and go from each identified store, and will limit entry if we reach a point where social distancing may be impacted.
- Pharmacy and Cashier Safety: Loblaws advises they are working very quickly to install plexi-glass shields in all stores, in both pharmacy and at front end, to help protect employees who have closer contact with customers. Installation was to start today (March 20).
- “Colleague” Shopping Hours. Loblaws employees will have dedicated shopping time in the stores from 7:00 am – 8:00 am on Thursdays, prior to store opening.
- Reduced Store Hours. Reduced store hours give managers the flexibility to manage various staffing challenges. This will provide time for much needed focus and rest and more opportunity to restock the store with less traffic.
- Temporary Restriction on Returns. For the foreseeable future, Loblaws will limit returns in our stores.
- Reusable bags/bins. All grocery stores will now be asking customers to bag their own groceries using reusable bags/bins or plastic bags (unless special assistance is needed). Loblaws will not charge for plastic bags for the foreseeable future.
- Sobeys has begun installing Plexiglass Cashier shields in their stores, and the company says, “they will work around the clock to get them into our stores. They will not be in every store immediately, but we’ll install them as quickly as we can.”
- Staff are to wash their hands every fifteen minutes, and extra resources are being put on the front ends, enabling Cashiers to wipe down common areas even more often.
- Stores will begin to have floor markers at check out, to help facilitate a two-metre distance between customers.
- Reducing store hours from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. for the time being, to support our extra sanitation protocols and allow a little extra time for replenishment of shelves.
- Sobeys is using additional staff throughout their stores to step up regular cleaning and sanitation in high-touch and high-traffic areas such as grocery carts, door handles and pin pads.
- Sobeys has stopped selling all bulk baked goods and bulk foods in self-serve areas, such as dry nuts and chocolate-covered almonds.
- Sobeys has cancelled all product demos, sampling and events in our community rooms.
The response to the COVID-19 crisis changes by the day, and UFCW Local 247 members are urged to continue checking the union’s website and/or Facebook page for the latest updates and news.
Suzanne Hodge, President Dan Goodman, Secretary-Treasurer
United Food & Commercial Workers Local 247