Masks now mandatory at Independent grocers in Yellowknife, Whitehorse

The rule came into effect on Thursday, according to a customer service representative at the downtown Glen's Your Independent Grocer.

Workers at Old Airport Road and Whitehorse locations said masks aren't mandatory

A sign at the downtown Glen's Your Independent Grocer on Thursday stipulates that masks are now mandatory upon entry. (Sara Minogue/CBC)

Masks are now mandatory for employees and shoppers at both of Your Independent Grocer locations in Yellowknife and Wykes' Your Independent Grocer in Whitehorse, according to Loblaws.

"This decision was made in accordance with our most recent guidelines from public health that dictate that wearing a mask is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19, particularly in places where physical distancing can be hard," Loblaws public relations said in an emailed statement Thursday evening.

"We trust that our employees and customers will respect this policy and do what they can to help keep everyone safe."

The statement says masks are required at Your Independent Grocer locations across the country, but aren't required for people who can't wear them for medical reasons.

The rule came into effect on Thursday, a customer service representative at Glen's Your Independent Grocer told CBC.

It was unclear though, earlier Thursday, if masks were required at northern locations of the chain. 

The representative said masks are mandatory across the store chain, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, a customer service rep for Rochdi's Your Independent Grocer on Old Airport Road said on Thursday that masks are not mandatory at that store, despite a large sign to the contrary.

A sign outside the Your Independent Grocer location on Old Airport Road in Yellowknife on Thursday. Despite the message, a customer service rep said masks are not mandatory at the store. (Garrett Hinchey/CBC)

A customer service representative at Wykes' Your Independent Grocer in Whitehorse also said on Thursday that masks are not mandatory for customers, only for staff. In a subsequent call to store manager Mark Wykes, he said "no comment," deferring to Loblaws.

Your Independent Grocer has more than 60 locations across Western Canada and Ontario. It's a subsidiary of Loblaws Inc.

The Loblaws website states that masks are mandatory for employees in certain locations, and they're recommended for customers, especially where physically distancing isn't possible.

The Real Canadian Superstore, which is also a subsidiary of Loblaws and has a location in Whitehorse, started mandating masks in stores on Aug. 29. A worker at the Whitehorse store confirmed the policy on Thursday, but directed further inquiries to Loblaws' public relations.

Walmart was one of the first major chains to mandate face coverings this summer. In August, it started requiring customers to wear masks in all its stores, including locations in Yellowknife and Whitehorse.

The N.W.T. Office of the Chief Public Health Officer recommended in April that residents use reusable or disposable cloth face coverings when in public places. They're currently mandatory on Yellowknife city transit

With files from Garrett Hinchey


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