Local grocer does temperature checks on shoppers to prevent spread of COVID-19

A London, Ont., grocery store has been conducting temperature checks on every customer before they go inside.

Berries Market is also offering delivery services and a dedicated shopping hour for seniors

Berries Market owner Husam Mohammed demonstrates what it looks like to receive a temperature check from one of his employees. (Alvin Yu/CBC News)

Imagine getting your temperature checked before you're allowed to go inside a grocery store.

That's exactly what a London, Ont., grocery store is doing as it tries to protect its shoppers and employees from COVID-19. 

"The [shoppers] should understand that this is for their safety so it shouldn't be that much," said Husam Mohammed, owner of Berries Market, when asked whether checking the temperature of every shopper might be an overreaction.

A dedicated employee will be stationed at the entrance of Berries Market with a forehead thermometer, making sure shoppers aren't coming in with a fever.

Shoppers who are allowed to enter the store must then put on latex gloves or use hand sanitizer.

After shoppers are cleared to enter the store, they must either wear latex gloves or put on hand sanitizer to prevent the spread of COVID-19. (Alvin Yu/CBC News)

Mohammed said he just wants his shoppers and employees to be safe.

The symptoms of COVID-19 can range from a very mild, cold-like illness to a severe lung infection. The most common symptoms include fever, fatigue and a dry cough.

Physical distancing, dedicated hour

Berries Market has also implemented a number of other measures for shoppers in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We keep some distance between the service area and the customers like the bakery, the restaurant, the butcher," said Mohammed. "There's almost more than a metre's distance between the customers and the employees."

In addition, a dedicated shopping hour between 8 and 9 a.m. has been in place for seniors and other vulnerable shoppers since last week.

Staff at Berries Market have added racks between some of the counters to make sure customers obey physical distancing from employees. (Alvin Yu/CBC News)

"People, they really like it ... we got very good feedback," Mohammed said about the changes to the shopping experience.

The grocery store is also offering a pick-up service where shoppers can have their groceries delivered to their vehicles, free of charge. For those who may not want to leave their homes, they can also get groceries delivered to their doorsteps for a fee.

Grocers respond

A number of other grocery stores in London have enacted similar measures as Berries Market, but some have gone even further, such as limiting the number of shoppers inside the store at one time and closing checkout lanes next to each other to encourage physical distancing.

Galen Weston, executive chairman of Loblaw Companies, which owns No Frills, The Real Canadian Superstore and Shoppers Drug Mart, issued a video statement on Thursday that announced changes to the company's stores.

"We're pre-packing more products to reduce touching and we're limiting the number of customers allowed in our busiest stores," said Weston.

Fees for plastic bags will be temporarily eliminated to discourage the use of reusable bags. However, anyone who brings reusable bags will be asked to bag their own items.

Meanwhile, Sobeys said it would install plexiglass barriers between cashiers and shoppers at select stores, and ask all employees to wash their hands every 15 minutes.

About the Author

Alvin Yu

CBC staff

Alvin Yu splits his time along the 401 corridor as a reporter for CBC London, and associate producer for CBC Toronto and The National. Yu set his sights on journalism early - as a kid he would anchor the news in the shower, hoping one day to make it to the big screen.