Whitehorse Daily Star

Image title

Photo by John Tonin

GOING WITH THE FLOW – Ella Commons, the manager of Riverside Grocery, is seen with Levi Commons on Tuesday. She says store staff are coping with the current unprecedented circumstances on a day-by-day basis.

Grocery stores adapting to COVID-19 risks

COVID-19 has shuttered the doors of non-essential businesses but those that remain open, like grocery stores, have been steadily adopting measures to keep their staff and the community safe.

By John Tonin on April 3, 2020

COVID-19 has shuttered the doors of non-essential businesses but those that remain open, like grocery stores, have been steadily adopting measures to keep their staff and the community safe.

Ella Commons, the manager of Riverside Grocery on Lowe Street, said in an interview it’s unprecedented times.

“We are doing OK,” said Commons. “This is something we haven’t experienced before, and we are taking it day-by-day.”

Commons said the products people have been purchasing the most are dry pantry goods as well as beans, grains and legumes in bulk.

To help combat the spread of the virus, Commons said, they have increased their cleaning regimen.

“We have more cleaning protocol right now,” said Commons. “We have an antiviral cleaner for all surfaces, door handles to every cooler and we recently got lots of sanitizer.”

Unlike other businesses still open, Riverside does not have plexiglass at the register, but Commons said it’s on their radar.

They haven’t had the need yet to limit the number of people in the store, she added.

“The morning times are quiet and there are no rushes at opening,” said Commons. “If we were to get crowded, we have a plan for that.”

During this time, Commons said, the customers have been good and understanding. For those people who don’t want, or can’t make it to the store, Commons said, staff have put in measures to help them.

“We’ve been doing tons of curbside pickups,” said Commons.

“We didn’t offer delivery, but now we do. You can email us a list then we will call you back to check it over. We drive around after work delivering.”

Save-On-Foods has 178 stores in four provinces and the Yukon. Store manager Ryan Nesbitt said the territory’s location is following the directives laid out by corporate officials, and include:

• increasing our already high standards on food safety, sanitation and cleanliness;

• encouraging team members to wash their hands regularly and frequently disinfecting high-touch areas;

• encouraging social distancing in all our stores with decals separated by two metres; and

• limiting the number of customers in stores at peak times.

Other measures include Plexiglas shields at all checkouts, and a shopping hour for seniors and those at risk from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. The store has also changed its hours from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Nesbitt said the health and safety of workers and clients is the priority.

“I’d like to thank the team members for their hard work to take care of the community,” said Nesbitt.

On Thursday, Save-On-Foods received Girl Guide cookies to sell in the store. Locations in other provinces received one pallet, but the Whitehorse store got six to service the entire territory, said Nesbitt.

A box of cookies will be sold for $5 and all proceeds will go to Girl Guides of Canada.

Nesbitt said they will make sure the cookies are on prominent display when people enter the store.

Kathleen Lundgaard, the franchise owner of Mrs. Grocery Yukon, will do groceries and delivery for those who cannot, or do not want to leave the house.

“It’s been steady,” said Lundgaard. “Especially older people. I’m giving seniors priority, I get to them first. Then it’s mostly families who are not out in public.”

Lundgaard said she is mostly doing groceries for people but will also pick up prescriptions and go to the big box stores like Walmart and Canadian Tire.

While shopping, Lundgaard, said she sanitizes the cart and wears gloves. She blocks out two hours to shop and deliver to a person so no orders get mixed.

When she arrives, people can meet her outside or pick up their order from the curb.

Since Lundgaard is spending lots of time in stores, doing three to five shops a day, she feels the stores are doing their part to stop the spread of COVID-19.

“They have the plexiglass barriers and sanitizer everywhere,” said Lundgaard. “At (Real Canadian) Superstore, the workers clean the self-checkouts after every use. Things are organized better.

“Walmart isn’t as drastic a change but they are monitoring the situation.”

Lundgaard will deliver as far as Judas Creek and the Mayo Road.

For those in the communities who don’t want to travel to Whitehorse, Lundgaard will buy, package and ship their order for them.

Comments (5)

Up 10 Down 0

Royalretainer on Apr 9, 2020 at 11:12 am

Riverside grocery is a nice family business. I've been going there from way back. I want them to survive. So every now and then I go in there to buy a specialty item.
It's just like the old world of the corner shop, personal, friendly, high end and down to earth at the same time. The original owner was a very nice gentleman. Good luck, carry on.

Up 18 Down 23

Juniper Jackson on Apr 4, 2020 at 3:55 pm

People really have to take this seriously. I did not when it first started because I naively thought that the Government would not be risking so many lives if the threat were real.. uh huh. Fast forward to the news from Ontario last night, the expectation is that 15,000 people will die, and if safe practices are not strictly adhered to as many as 100,000 could die. What don't people understand about that? We're safe because we're in the Yukon? Two half wits drove across Canada, got on a plane to Old Crow. If one of them was infected, they could have potentially wiped out the whole community. Feel safe now? I went to the store today, 1 stop, got my groceries and left. But, SuperStore was business as usual. One other person that I saw had a face mask on. Superstore had an employee to tell people to step back.. 6 feet rule. You think you are safe? What about that man who traveled all over Europe? Flew back infected. He said he went home to isolate. But..did he? What if he lied? (I'm sorry whoever you are..I don't mean to imply you lied..but people do).

My point? None of us are safe. You have all got to do what the professionals are telling us to do. Information seems to be contradictory.. but, that is because researchers are finding out more about it, and the damn thing is mutating. In the first version, the virus attacked primarily old or sick lungs. In the next version, it attacks everyone. They call them strains L and S. I don't trust too much what the government is saying..they waited 6 weeks to tell us there was a virus, another 2 weeks to tell us it was serious. They never did shut down travel, they never enhanced airport security, they never closed the borders. (Trump did that, but Roxham is still open.) Some serious security flaws there, and to boot, the feds sent 16 tonnes of medical protective gear to China, and China isn't giving any of it back. Get those masks on when you go out. Carry a container of disinfectant wipes in your car. Read all the news to keep current. There are a whole lot of out of territory license plates in town. You, me, we are not safe. I would hate to have to hear on the news, that the Yukon Territory ran out of body bags.

Up 15 Down 16

Miles Epanhauser on Apr 4, 2020 at 3:21 pm

Many businesses have stepped up and are providing great service.
Think there should be an effort to balance risk and economic activities. The longer we are shut down the more prolonged the recovery will be.

Up 17 Down 18

JC on Apr 3, 2020 at 5:01 pm

This is all starting to freak me out. But hey, don't panic. JT and Larry has everything under control.

Up 17 Down 15

JC on Apr 3, 2020 at 4:57 pm

Come on you two, 2 metres apart. You know the rules. Somebody call the woohaw police.

Add your comments or reply via Twitter @whitehorsestar

In order to encourage thoughtful and responsible discussion, website comments will not be visible until a moderator approves them. Please add comments judiciously and refrain from maligning any individual or institution. Read about our user comment and privacy policies.

Your name and email address are required before your comment is posted. Otherwise, your comment will not be posted.