Nova Scotia

Sobeys, Loblaws installing Plexiglas cashier shields as grocers ramp up COVID-19 measures

Sobeys, Walmart and Loblaws have announced measures to keep their employees safe and respond to customer needs as COVID-19 spreads.

'We've looked across the world at best practices and these shields stand out as a strong safety precaution'

Sobeys has begun installing acrylic plastic shields to protect some staff from COVID-19. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

Two major grocery store chains are taking steps to protect their employees from COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

In a statement Friday, Sobeys said it began installing Plexiglas shields to protect cashiers at its stores.

"We've looked across the world at best practices and these shields stand out as a strong safety precaution," the statement said.

Loblaw Companies Limited announced it is planning reduced hours at its grocery and Shoppers Drug Mart stores to allow staff more time to clean and to rest.

On Friday, the company announced it was looking to hire more people in the Atlantic region.

On Saturday, Loblaw Companies Limited announced it also moving to Plexiglas shields.

A statement from Galen Weston, the executive chairman, said their company has acquired Plexiglas shields for the checkout counters, and has begun installing them in stores.

Sobeys store hours will now be reduced to 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. to allow more time for cleaning and restocking shelves.

Sobeys also said its employees are now washing their hands every 15 minutes and more resources have been added at the front end of stores, allowing cashiers to wipe down common areas more often.

Loblaw also put out a statement from Weston saying Loblaws grocery stores will now be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., with the first hour dedicated to seniors and people with health concerns.

Hours at Shoppers Drug Mart will be reduced "based on the needs of our community," the statement said. The reduced hours are to allow for extra cleaning "and a bit of rest."

To encourage social distancing, Loblaws grocery stores will also begin limiting the number of customers allowed in the stores at the same time.

Loblaws is reducing store hours and limiting the number of people allowed in their stores. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

The statement also said stores will temporarily waive the five-cent plastic bag fee to discourage people from using reusable bags. People who bring reusable bags are asked to bag their items themselves.

These changes are in effect right away, the statement said.

Walmart looking for staff

Walmart Canada says it's also implementing new measures.

In a statement, president and CEO Horacio Barbeito said Walmart stores will remain open, but will dedicate the first opening hour to seniors and those with disabilities or health conditions.

While Barbeito said there's lots of food and supplies, some stores may limit quantities per customer.

The statement also said changes have been made to the Walmart Canada website to allow grocery home deliveries to be left at the door.

As well, the company is looking to immediately hire 10,000 more employees in its stores and distribution centres.