Friday April 16, 2021 | LANGFORD, BC [Updated April 19 with a comment from Canada Post which does indicate that it was staff management by the Fairway Market store (within physical store layout challenges) which contributed to the COVID management problem. But given that the Shoppers Drug Mart location has set up the postal outlet right near the high-traffic paper products section (i.e. toilet paper, tissue and paper towel), it remains to be seen if physical distancing challenges continue.
STATEMENT from Canada Post April 19: “We welcome the Shoppers Drug Mart team at the mall on Jacklin Road to our post office network. We would also like to thank the ownership and employees at the Fairway Market, who up until recently provided postal services in their store at the same mall. The Fairway Market store on Goldstream Avenue continues to provide postal services to Langford residents.” | “The dealer post office and store are under the same ownership. As such, while the staff who operate the post office undergo the same training as those in Canada Post (outlets), they are employees of the store and under their management.” | Health and safety practices re COVID-19: “We provide signage and floor decals to all dealer locations to assist them in managing the lines and adhere to distancing requirements. Our local team is in regular contact with ownership of our franchise postal outlets.”
by Mary P Brooke, Editor | Island Social Trends
Back in January, Island Social Trends broke the story about the COVID-19 physical distancing challenges for the Canada Post service outlet within the Fairway Market grocery store within the Westshore Town Centre.
After that, there were discussions about relocating the outlet to a location with more available staff and presumably a better (safer) floorplan layout.
Yesterday a new Canada Post outlet opened in the nearby Shoppers Drug Mart (Store #278), elsewhere in the mall. The Shoppers store is essentially ‘standalone’ (i.e. has no customer entry or exit into the mall itself). The postal outlet is located at the far back of the store, just past the paper products section.
Island Social Trends is awaiting comment back from Canada Post, Fairway Market and the local Shoppers Drug Mart store.
The back story:
Back in January during the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic (following people having socializing and spread the virus over the winter break and Christmas holiday season), most people in the mid-afternoon lineup for service at the Canada Post outlet within the Fairway Market store at Westshore Town Centre in Langford waited up to 30 minutes yesterday to reach the service counter.
While everyone was wearing masks, there were numerous crossovers of less-than-two-metres between customers leaving grocery checkout lines past people standing ‘on the spot’ for long periods.
One customer stated tonight on Twitter in response to this article: “Having staff crossing the line going into the staff area was more of a concern for me. After distancing in line, there were two wickets with Interac terminals 4ft apart.”
While floor markers show spacing for distancing and directional flow, many people in the store were not paying attention to that — one of the increasing signs of ‘COVID fatigue’ during the ongoing pandemic (now into a second year).
Public health orders in BC during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic included then (and still do) that people maintain a separated distance of two meters (wherever possible), and to wear a mask in any indoor public spaces.
Two corporate entities under one roof:
Fairway Market store management said that someone at the Canada Post outlet (which operates independently of the grocery store but within the same physical footprint) suddenly quit last week. That had left the popular Canada Post outlet understaffed.
The one person serving customers at the Canada Post outlet on January 4 was calm and working hard, doing their best. But people in the long lineup — sometimes up to 15 people for long periods — were directly in the path of grocery customers coming and going.
There was no evident guidance by store management to limit the number of people standing and waiting in line; the store entrance is through a spacious mall area where people could be asked to wait in a more spacious area before joining the Canada Post lineup. Not everyone waited in line long enough to reach the service counter.
Apparently Fairway Market has contacted the south Vancouver Island regional office of Canada Post to discuss the long lineups and is waiting to hear back.
Snail mail still in demand:
Despite that the Internet takes care of a lot of communications remotely nowadays, there are still reasons to use ‘snail mail’ (parcels, registered mail, expedited letters, or just to stock up on postage stamps for letters to mail later in community postal boxes). Yesterday that was clearly evident by the long lineups as seen by Island Social Trends during an unexpected 35-minute period in the store.
Managing boundaries during a pandemic:
There seems to be an overly strident respect for corporate boundaries between the grocery store and the postal outlet which probably worked well pre-COVID. Grocery store management said it would actually help to see a bit of public attention brought to this matter, in terms of perhaps getting a faster response from Canada Post.
It might be considered good pandemic-scenario customer service to manage or resolve the long lineups, for the sake of all customers in the space (both the grocery shoppers and postal customers). Before Christmas Canada Post asked people for patience regarding lineups.
Fairway Market at 38,015 sq ft is one of the largest stores within the Westshore Town Centre at 2945 Jacklin Road. The other large retail tenant with via-mall-entry only is Winners/HomeSense at the other end of the mall. The total mall store area is 193,000 sq ft.
Island Social Trends has reached out to Canada Post head office, Fairway Market head office, and the Island Health inspection department. Update to follow.
Current COVID pandemic conditions:
BC is still in a State of Emergency (currently to end of day April 27) as renewed every two weeks since the day after the pandemic was declared in mid-March 2020.
As of April 16 there have been 117,080 COVID cases in BC (4,233 in Island Health).
The public health order in effect since mid-November 2020 is still for no gatherings (household socializing only), as well as face masks in all indoor spaces, and essential travel only.
COVID-19 vaccines continue to roll out in BC (with various challenges having to do with supply and also the perceived safety risk of the AstraZeneca product for people under age 55).
To date, about 29.8% of the adult population of BC (i.e. 1,282,091 people out of 4.3 million) have received their first dose. The rest of the community is still exposed in every way as they go about their daily lives, particularly as the B.1.1.7 (UK) and P.1 variants are predominant in the case profiles.