May 26 – Shopping in the pandemic times

To be sure, these are trying times for every segment of society. Trying times call for trying measures to keep people safe, but at the same time to slowly open up businesses to restart the economy to some level of normal.

After the mandatory 6-8 weeks of self-isolation, I thought that I knew the rules of engagement well enough for safely venturing outside my home for some essential shopping, so I decided to explore the reopening. The three most important rules to follow for safety are; 2 metre social distancing, wear a mask if that’s not possible and wash hands with hot water and soap numerous times a day.

With these guidelines etched in my psyche, I ventured out to a few of the reopened retail stores stretched out over several days.

I first went to Costco to pick up a few items. The lineup was long as it was senior hour, but my time in the line was not very long. At first, I was asked to push a shopping cart mostly to keep the distance between the shopper in front of me and me. I must say, I was very impressed once inside. The clearly marked arrows helped me quickly to navigate my way through the store. The aisles were monitored to maintain the social distancing, the check-out counters were sanitized after every use, and the cashier wore transparent head gear. Since I was wearing gloves, touching the Credit Card machine did not matter, as I knew I will wash my hands as soon I got home. I was in and out of Costco in less than 45 minutes. What a relief!

I had the same positive experience in the LCBO and in Bulk Barn. At the Bulk Barn, three sales people work at one time so three customers are allowed in to the store. Upon my arrival, I was asked to sanitize my hands, and then I was given a pair of latex gloves and a sanitized shopping cart for distancing. Everyone wore a mask. Like every other customer, I was assigned a sales person, “my personal shopper” who demonstrated friendliness, kindness and efficiency. I just pointed to the products and she scooped and bagged them. This new method of shopping was a super efficient way of getting me through the aisles in less than an hour.

The bonus in both of these shopping experiences was that I felt safe for the moment of possible interaction with anyone who might be asymptomatic.

I also found Curb-Side shopping convenient, safe and efficient as there was no lineup at the cashier. Ordering and paying were all completed on line. Other stress-free retailers: Toys R Us, and Michael’s.

Three days later, I ran into a large box store and found the atmosphere completely different, challenging and disappointing. There was no one lined up outside, although distancing was measured, so I walked in. I saw small groups of people walking around. Another group of customers crowding the aisles; crowding the sales people and crowding the cashier’s lane. I think the store lost crowd control. I observed the scene and quickly left without buying anything. I was disappointed mostly because the most important rule of social distancing, the battle cry of this war, was not followed at all. Yes, the store needs to control the number of customers inside at any one time, but we also have a responsibility to follow and respect the guidelines.

Yes, these are trying times and we all must do our part to defend against this virus. The guidelines may be inconvenient and challenging, but that is the only way to keep our families, friends, community and ourselves safe. We need to do this for the good of the greater good.

Just my Opinion

Éva H

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