Home Health COVID-19 Okay to shop for groceries when you need to during COVID 19

Okay to shop for groceries when you need to during COVID 19

"Maintain physical distance, be patient with staff, and recognize that stores may have some different procedures." ~ Dr Bonnie Henry, BC Provincial Health Officer

Thursday March 26, 2020 ~ BC

by Mary Brooke ~ West Shore Voice News

Everyone other than essential service workers are to be now self-isolating at home. But people will need to replenish their household supply of groceries during COVID-19.

“People should not be going out if they feel at all unwell – they should try to get a friend, neighbour or family member to shop for them in those situations,” said BC Provincial Health Officer Dr Bonnie Henry this week.  Some stores also have delivery options..

lineup, grocery store, COVID-19, social distancing
Customers lined up awaiting entry to the Thrifty Foods store at Hillside Mall in Victoria on March 21, 2020 during COVID-19 pandemic. [West Shore Voice News]

At some grocery stores in the Victoria area last weekend there were lineups. People were fairly self-regulated in remembering to keep a distance of one to two meters while in line. Only one door to the store allowed for access, where there was a security guard to manage the flow of customers to a limit of 50 in the store at one time.

Some stores have wipes readily available for cleaning the handles of grocery carts as you walk in. Others do not. Some stores have tape on the floor marking the 2-metre distance between customers at the checkout, others do not. Some stores went the extra mile by closing every-other till so there would be more room between both workers and customers.

One father with a school-age child as approaching the loading ramp for groceries at the til said to no one in particular last weekend at one of the large grocery store chains: “It was was a surreal experience just now in your store aisles.”

beans, grocery store, empty shelves
Products that have a long shelf life — like beans — are sold down to zero on shelves in some stores (March 2020) [West Shore Voice News]

Some shelves were emptied out completely (paper products, including all toilet paper gone). More expensive foods that were not marked down in price — like higher end meat products and specialty canned products — were not reduced in supply.

Some things are on sale at various grocery stores, and of course those sell out quickly. To the retailer’s advantage, some slow-moving products at normal times were marked at 2-for-1, as a way to possibly clear shelf space for other products or move stock that might sit there for a while.

Notably, some products were set at prices far higher than normal, even though retailers have been asked not to manage product supply in that way — for people on a fixed budget that meant going within some basics like butter.

Social distancing while grocery shopping,
Social distancing while grocery shopping, March 21, 2020 [West Shore Voice News]

“If you are feeling well and have no symptoms, you can shop as normally – but maintain physical distance, be patient with staff, and recognize that stores may have some different procedures (for example, most stores have closed their bulk foods sections),” according to the BC-CDC website. 

As an assurance to help with calm methodical shopping as needed: “The supply chain is solid, buy what you need, you do not need to hoard.”

Most stores are now not allowing the use of reusable bags from home, due to possible contamination.

Stores clerks are working hard. At one local drug store a clerk was clearly upset and blurted out “I’m so scared”.

Shoppers Drug Mart and Loblaws have increased the wages of front line retail workers, while other companies have laid people off.

grocery shopping, every other til, COVID-19
Every other til is closed, to allow for more space between retail checkout workers and customers, March 21, 2020 in a large Victoria grocery store during COVID-19 [West Shore Voice News]

The Victoria Chamber of Commerce executive director Catherine Holt said today that store workers are essential workers. BC Health Minister Adrian Dix said once again today how much the workers in frontline retail are greatly appreciated for their support to everyone else.

At a local gas station the friendly clerk who knows all her regular customers apologized in advance that next time customers are there to pay inside that there will be a plexiglass barrier between customer and cashier.

As Dix said in his daily news conference with Dr Henry, these social distancing conditions when out in public are going to be going on for quite a while. It is still at least six days until public health system sees if ‘flattening the curve’ will have taken place. It takes everyone doing their part. “We need everyone 100% committed to doing this,” said Dix to media today.