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03/20/2020

Sobeys installs Plexiglas shields to fight spread of COVID-19

Empire-owned chain is taking additional steps to further enhance safety measures in its stores

Grocery stores that remain open as an essential service during the novel coronavirus outbreak are taking new measures, like installing Plexiglas shields at cash registers, to protect customers and staff from COVID-19.

"We are announcing a series of new measures to further enhance the stepped-up sanitation protocols at our stores," said Sobeys Inc. president and CEO Michael Medline in a statement posted on the company's Twitter account.

"We tested Plexiglas cashier shields as yet another safeguard to protect our teammates and customers from this terrible coronavirus."

The Plexiglas shielding was installed at some stores Thursday night and the company said they'd roll out the protection at every store as soon as possible.

READ: Canadians concerned about COVID-19, but panic buying not as widespread as reports suggest

The shields "stand out as a strong safety precaution" among best practices the company looked at from around the world, he said.

Sobeys will also reduce store hours to 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. to allow staff more time for new sanitation protocols and to stock shelves.

Staff will be required to wash their hands every 15 minutes and cashiers will disinfect their tills more frequently.

READ: How Canadian grocery is dealing with COVID-19

The company will also add floor markers to queuing areas to help customers maintain proper social distancing of two metres apart.

Sobeys is a subsidiary of Empire Co. Ltd., and the changes will also take place at its Safeway chain, according to a letter to Safeway customers from Medline.

READ: Grocers respond to food shortage fears amid COVID-19 outbreak

Loblaw Companies Ltd. announced a series of changes Thursday.

The company will also reduce operating hours to give staff time to clean and rest, CEO Galen Weston said in a video posted to the company's Twitter account.

Loblaw is prepacking more products to reduce touching, and will limit the number of customers allowed at a time in its busiest stores to help shoppers and staff practice social distancing.

Metro Inc. announced Wednesday it would temporarily shorten its hours to 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily for most of its stores to allow staff to restock shelves, clean and rest.