April 9, 2020
Galen on what to expect with evolving safety measures in stores
I can’t believe it’s been nearly a month since my first letter to you. The world certainly feels like a very different place. And we’re probably all wondering when things will be back to normal, or what that normal will even look like. Today, as we see the social distancing measures that we’re all practicing start to flatten the curve in other countries, there’s reason to be optimistic—and a reason to keep it up. We have been getting lots of fantastic feedback on social media, and through e-mail, sharing positive experiences in our stores. We are also hearing from some concerned customers about situations where social distancing is not being followed. We really appreciate you letting us know, and our teams are making sure to respond directly to each and every one of those concerns. In addition to that, I thought it might be worthwhile to share exactly what we are doing in our stores to encourage social distancing, so you know just what to expect when you shop with us:
1. Arriving At The Store: If it’s the first hour of the day, you should expect us to be limiting access to give priority to seniors. During the rest of the time, we’re keeping the number of shoppers to less than 25% of normal capacity so everyone has enough space to shop comfortably. In our busier stores, there will be a guard managing this process and you may be asked to wait outside in a line, keeping 6 feet apart. And please keep in mind, we are asking everyone to limit themselves to one person per household per shopping trip. I know it makes the trip a bit lonelier, but this helps ensure as many households as possible can shop in a day.
2. While Shopping: You should expect to find sanitizer or hand-washing stations available as you enter. In some stores, a colleague will be wiping down cart handles in person. In others, this will be done as the carts are collected. There will also be signs and regular PA announcements reminding us all to keep a safe distance from each other. Our colleagues will do their best to give you space as they work, and we ask that you return the favour. And in some locations, we have also introduced markings on the floor indicating which way you should go down each aisle. Please follow them.
3. When You Check Out: Everyone should keep 6 feet apart in the lineup. Many stores will have this distance marked on the floor. But if not, a good rule of thumb is about 1.5 shopping cart lengths. If you choose to use self-checkout, only half will be open to allow more space. And the rest of our lanes have plexiglass shields to help protect you and our cashiers. Many locations now have them on both sides of the checkout. This keeps everyone well-protected while letting us open up more registers, moving you through faster to avoid crowding. As you go to pay, consider tapping your credit card rather than touching the pin pad since many banks have increased their limit to $250. And lastly, if you’re able to, please pack your own groceries in the plastic bags we’re now offering free of charge.
Many of these measures mean it will take longer to do your shopping, and you may find yourself lining up more than usual. That’s frustrating and it’s easy to get angry with those who aren’t following the rules. Please be patient. Our teams are working hard to make our stores a safe place to shop, encouraging everyone to respect each other’s space. But, if you see something that’s stopping you from having the room you need or the experience I’ve described, please e-mail me at Galen@Loblaw.ca with “Social Distancing” in the subject line. We will make sure we look into it.
As I’ve been reading your e-mails, far and away the question we are hearing most is about our colleagues wearing masks. I mentioned a few weeks ago that our sourcing teams have been working around the clock, searching worldwide to get them. I am delighted to report that the first shipment arrived yesterday and they’re on their way to stores. At the same time, we have been actively working with healthcare networks to donate 250 thousand masks to local hospitals. And finally, based on the recent advice from Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam, you should also feel free to wear your own face covering when shopping.
Our stores have always been a place where communities come together, but in these extraordinary times, that means staying apart as much as possible. Thank you for doing your share to keep our colleagues and each other healthy. And don’t forget, if you notice someone going above and beyond, please let me know.
Keep your head up, and be kind,