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B.C. releases COVID-19 safety guidelines for grocery stores

The "COVID-19 Guidance to Grocery Stores" offers ways retailers can help mitigate the spread of the virus

British Columbia has put a series of safety guidelines in place for retail food and grocery stores as they continue to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Placing hand sanitizer dispensers in high-touch areas, providing clean carry-out bags for purchases and placing markers two metres apart to support physical distancing in store, are a few of the measures proposed by the British Columbia Ministry of Health.

The COVID-19 Guidance to Grocery Stores lays out how grocers and food retailers should operate now that the province has issued an order prohibiting gatherings of 50 or more people to help prevent transmission of the highly-contagious virus.

While the government said the order didn't apply to food retailers and grocery chains, the "spirit of the order should be followed."

"This means that, for example, in large grocery stores where it is feasible to have more than 50 people, while still following appropriate physical distancing, it is acceptable to have over 50 people present at one time," the guide reads.

Stores should also eliminate the sale of bulk items, and post signs at each checkout indicating that no customer packaging is to be used or placed on checkout counters.

The guide also asks grocers to consider monitoring the number of customers and staff coming in and out of the store, and to minimize the number of shoppers allowed in the store at one time. "A good rule of thumb when calculating a maximum number of persons in a retail or grocery store at any one time is one person per 2 meters squared or 4 square meters of retail floor space."

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