'People aren’t sleeping well': union says government restrictions in stores aren’t enough
EDMONTON -- Christmas Eve is a notoriously busy shopping day any year, and despite the pandemic, 2020 is no different.
While many customers have chosen to shop online this year, many are still venturing out to snap up last minute gifts and groceries.
Retail businesses are one of the few businesses allowed to stay open under the recently imposed health regulations in Alberta, but capacity must be reduced to 15 per cent of fire code occupancy, not including staff. Masking, frequent disinfecting and physical distancing is also required.
But some say those measures aren’t enough. The union representing 9,000 Real Canadian Superstore members says it’s concerned about the number of customers inside stores.
“Customers and employees of Superstores have been calling us, expressing serious and frankly grave concerns about the lack of social distancing,” said Thomas Hesse, President of UFCW Local 401.
Hesse says even when the company adheres to the 15 per cent rule, there could be upwards of 500 people in the store.
“They are concerned about going to work, there is a nervousness, people aren't sleeping well.”
The union has sent a letter to the province requesting urgent amendments to regulations. It also asked for enforcement officers inside stores.
“The 15 per cent capacity is only one of the public health measures in place. Others include ensuring that physical distancing can be maintained, which may also help reduce occupancy. We have provided guidance for shopping malls and other large retail operators to help reduce the risk of transmission,” said Jessica Lucenko of Alberta Health in response to the letter. “Alberta’s Guidance for Malls and Shopping Centres sets out basic safety measures for large retailers to help reduce the risk of transmission. Shoppers must also do their part. Shop only with your household, avoid peak hours and use curbside or online delivery whenever possible.”
But Hesse is still concerned.
“Grocery stores have made a fortune in this pandemic, they need to act in a socially responsible way.”
With files from CTV News Edmonton's Chelan Skulski.