Nova Scotia

Bedford Superstore closes after employee tests positive for COVID-19

The Bedford Superstore evacuated shoppers Friday after an employee tested positive for COVID-19. The store is now closed for cleaning.

Dr. Robert Strang says there is no significant risk to shoppers

Shoppers were asked to leave the Superstore in Bedford, N.S., immediately around midday Friday. (Brett Ruskin/CBC)

A Bedford, N.S., grocery store shut down unexpectedly Friday afternoon after an employee tested positive for COVID-19.

Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health, confirmed the case during Friday's COVID-19 press briefing.

Strang said the employee did not work in a public-facing role and he said there was no significant risk to anyone who had shopped at the store.

Public health officials were working with the store to identify the employee's close contacts, Strang said, and the store was temporarily closed to clean.

Mark Bourdreau, director of corporate affairs for Loblaw Atlantic, said the store was cleaned overnight by a professional cleaning company.

The store reopened Saturday morning.

"We want to assure our customers and employees that we take their safety very seriously," said Boudreau.

"Additionally, colleagues who worked closely with this individual are now at home in self-isolation, monitoring for any symptoms."

Shoppers asked to evacuate from store

Caily Strachan told CBC News it was shortly after noon Friday when the Atlantic Superstore on the Bedford Highway ordered shoppers to leave any groceries they had collected and evacuate the store.

"Me and my almost-three-month-old son went in and picked up some things that we needed and were on our way to the cash before everything escalated," Strachan said in a phone interview.

Shoppers were turned away from the Bedford Superstore location Friday afternoon after an employee tested positive for COVID-19 and the store was shut down for a thorough cleaning. People wearing masks and other protective gear were seen entering the store. (Brett Ruskin/CBC)

Strachan said she tried to continue through the checkout, but a staff member told her she had to take her belongings and leave immediately, explaining that a case of COVID-19 had been linked to the store. 

"It was sort of shocking because I didn't think it would come this close to home. But here we are," she said.

She said she intends to self-isolate for 14 days, and monitor herself and her son for COVID-19 symptoms.

Oshawa location also closed for deep-clean

An employee of a Loblaw-operated grocery store in Oshawa, Ont., tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this week, which the company confirmed in a public letter signed by Galen Weston.

Weston — executive chairman of Superstore's parent company, Loblaw Companies Ltd. — said stores would close immediately upon learning of any employees testing positive for the virus.

"We know communities consider us an essential service right now, but we ask for your patience as we will remain closed for as long as it takes to deep-clean, or on the advice of public health," Weston said.

In the letter he also said the Oshawa store had been working with public health officials to investigate the employee's recent shifts and identify their close contacts.

He had said staff would do a deep-clean of the store, above and beyond already-enhanced cleaning protocols.

"We will be completely transparent by communicating directly to customers who have recently shopped in the affected store," Weston said.

In the Oshawa case, Weston said the company had talked to all colleagues about the case, posted to local social media and emailed individual customers who had used their PC Optimum accounts at the affected store.