March 19, 2020

Galen Weston photograph

A new update from Galen: new measures we’re taking and new ways you can help

Hi Everyone,

I hope you’re hanging in there. These are certainly unprecedented times. Things are evolving very quickly as governments around the world make new statements every single day. And there’s a sense of stress and concern that is weighing on everyone. It is no different for us and our people. So, I would like to provide another update.

Yesterday, many of you would have seen that the U.S.-Canada border has closed for non-essential traffic. Another step to minimize the spread of COVID-19. I am confident it will help. Hopefully you also saw that the supply of food and other essentials will remain uninterrupted.

You will have noticed that shopping volumes in your local store remain high. And while the flow of goods is stable, our incredible store teams are exhausted and concerned. As the whole country is being asked to stay home, they are proudly coming to work. Keeping our stores open and serving you depends entirely on the health and wellbeing of the people who work there. We need to look after them. Earlier this week I told you about how we’ve introduced safeguards that ensure our colleagues won’t lose pay if they are ill or in self-quarantine due to COVID-19. Today, we are introducing a number of additional measures to help keep them healthy and safe.

Starting now, we are reducing store hours to allow our colleagues time for extra sanitization and a bit of rest. Supermarkets will open from 7am-8pm, with the first hour dedicated to seniors and those with disabilities. We will also reduce hours at Shoppers Drug Mart based on the needs of each community – please check online for the revised opening hours for your store.

Over the next few days we will begin limiting the number of customers allowed in our busiest stores at the same time. This will make it much easier for you and our colleagues to practice social distancing. When the aisles are jam-packed, giving people the appropriate amount of space is just too difficult. For those stores, the specific capacity will be determined based on their size. And, wherever possible, we will only open every other checkout lane, also to encourage social distancing. In short, more space for everyone.

We are also taking steps to reduce the risk for colleagues handling product by eliminating loose or bulk items in certain supermarkets, and we will move some service departments, such as seafood, to exclusively pre-packed products in several of our banners. We’ve stopped all food sampling, removed beauty testers in Shoppers Drug Mart, and suspended cosmetic services like makeovers and skincare consultations. We are also encouraging you to use debit or credit as much as possible. In short, the less touching the better.

We will begin temporarily waiving the $0.05 plastic bag fee to discourage the use of reusable bags, and ask those of you who do bring them to bag your own items. It’s that less touching thing again.

Finally, some of you may be wondering why more of our colleagues are not fitted with medical masks. There are two reasons. 1. We simply do not have enough for everyone. We’re doing everything we can to get more. 2. Our medical advisors have told us that social distancing, washing your hands, and being careful about what you touch, remain far and away the most effective ways to stay safe.

So, let me leave you with three things:

1. We are reducing operating hours in our stores – for rest and sanitization (check online for details)

2. We are modifying our service counters to have more pre-packaged product – for less touching

3. We will begin limiting the number of customers allowed in our busiest stores at the same time – for social distancing

These are quite substantial changes. I realize they will lead to a very different experience shopping in our stores. Some of these concepts may not work as intended. If they don’t, we will adjust to get them right. But, we believe they are essential. And we ask for your patience and support as we do our best to keep our stores open and operating as safely and effectively as possible, for our colleagues, and for you.

And I have one last request, if you are shopping with us and you see a colleague or customer going above and beyond during these challenging times, please take a moment to send it to me at or to post it online. There is nothing more inspiring than the everyday actions of good people. We would love to share them.

Things will no doubt keep evolving and I will do my best to keep you up to date.

Speak soon,

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