Nfld. & Labrador

Front-line store workers urge shoppers follow public health rules after spike in COVID-19 cases

Essential workers at stores in the St. John’s area are asking people to be patient and follow public health guidelines as the region wrestles with a huge increase in new COVID-19 cases.

'Common sense and manners' important, says grocery worker Hugh Alcock

Hugh Alcock says it's important people 'keep to the regulations' when they're at the grocery store. (CBC)

Essential workers at stores in and around St. John's are asking people to be patient and follow the public health guidelines as the region wrestles with a huge increase in new COVID-19 cases.

Hugh Alcock, a produce clerk at a Dominion grocery store in St. John's, says "common sense and manners" are particularly important now that there has been significant community transmission.

"Coming from a front-line worker's opinion, everyone needs to wear their mask, and that doesn't mean having your mask just over your mouth; it means having it over your nose, and knowing that people are washing their hands … that's a good start," he said.

With more than 150 new COVID-19 cases in the St. John's area on Wednesday and Thursday alone, Alcock said he's concerned he may get sick or spread the virus to his family if people don't follow the rules. 

"I feel scared when I go to work now because I don't want anyone to receive harm through me going to work and I never, ever wanna be a part of passing it along," he said.

"So it is definitely scary, but if you keep to the regulations, keep your mask on, wash your hands pretty consistently, I think that's a pretty good place to start."

Alcock says if people properly wear a mask and practise physical distancing while at the grocery store, it should help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and keep workers and customers safe. (CBC)

Alcock said most people have been cautious and are heeding the guidelines set out by public health, but there are always a few who don't follow the rules as closely.

He said his workplace has changed significantly as a result of the pandemic, but he's optimistic that most shoppers will continue to follow public health guidelines and the province will be able to get the spread of COVID-19 under control.

'Be aware, be respectful, be kind'

Like Alcock, Sheila Miller at Charlie's Convenience in Torbay says everyone should follow the guidelines set out by Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald when out getting essential items.

"I think that is so important, and everybody, and I mean everybody, needs to follow what she's saying to make sure that everybody is safe that comes into the store," she said.

Miller said while most customers at the store do wear masks, they might not have been taking the guidelines as seriously as they should have because of the previously low case numbers in the province.

"I think, for the most part, people really did become somewhat complacent, which is why, of course, we are where we are today.… I think it's important that everybody get back to where they were first when the pandemic started," she said.

"Everybody has to realize until everyone is vaccinated, that this is not going to go away so I think it's really important that they be aware, be respectful, be kind."

Sheila Miller, who works at Charlie's Convenience, says it's important for everyone to follow public health guidelines. (CBC)

Miller said her store provides an important service for people in the community and it's important that vulnerable people can come and shop as safely as possible.

"You have a lot of elderly people that don't want to go to the larger supermarkets, so I think for us to be here is crucial," she said.

Miller said she plans to keep her store clean and keep customers feeling safe, and she hopes things will get better if people follow the rules when they have to leave the house.

"I think that's the key here, for everybody to do their part."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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