Limit trips to grocery stores to slow the spread of COVID-19: Food Workers Union

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CALGARY – Western Canada’s largest private sector union is proposing that people be limited to one trip to the grocery store each week to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among customers and workers.

Tom Hesse, president of United Food and Commercial Workers 401, which represents 32,000 workers, said governments should also pass regulations that allow only one person per family in a store at a time.

“We are going to ask for clear rules applicable with fines in a regulatory regime. The point is, we can’t let these places become nursing homes and it’s just free for everyone in these grocery stores right now, “Hesse told The Canadian Press.

The union suggests that loyalty programs and membership cards may be used to track visits and that peace officers may be required to enforce the regulations.

While people can be fined for breaking social distancing rules outside, Hesse said it was always dangerous inside grocery stores.

“I went down the street from my house and they have yellow tape around the monkey bars and I am told that if I go up to these monkey bars, I can get a fine of $ 1,000,” he said. he declares.

“But they allow hundreds of people to wander the grocery stores. So where is the regulatory regime? ”

THE CANADIAN PRESS

A plexiglass barrier is shown creating a barrier to protect a cashier at a grocery store in North Vancouver on March 22.

Hesse said the union will send an official proposal to the Alberta government and grocery chains next week and hopes that a nationwide implementation will eventually happen. He said government regulation is necessary because self-regulation by the grocery industry would be “the fox guarding the chicken coop.”

An Alberta Health spokesperson said there are already many rules for keeping away from grocery stores, as well as hand sanitizing and cleaning stations to maintain high levels of hygiene.

“We recognize the important role that grocery store workers play during this pandemic,” Alberta Health spokesperson Tom McMillan said in an email.

“We have taken clear steps to protect the grocers, while ensuring that families have the flexibility to continue to meet their needs during this difficult time.” If further action is required in the future, we will take it. “

The Federal Department of Labor has issued a statement noting that the safety of workers in grocery stores is a provincial responsibility.

“We continue to urge all employers to go beyond standard health and safety measures to ensure the safety of workers in this extraordinary situation while meeting the reasonable demands of employees,” the statement said.

Many stores have implemented measures such as one-way aisles and space line stickers. Shields were also installed at the cash desks to protect the cashiers.

Loblaws said it also limits store capacity, does not make returns, and does not ask people to pay with cards.

“We also asked customers to help us, by reducing the number of visits they make to our stores to once a week or less and shopping alone if possible,” said Catherine Thomas, senior manager of Loblaws external communication.

“We all have a role to play in protecting each other.”

Sobeys did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

This Canadian Press report was first published on April 17, 2020

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