Shoppers Drug Mart among retailers to roll back COVID-19 protocols

These measures come as public health officials and infectious disease experts warn of a potential seventh wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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It’s just alarming because people (customers) are coming in sick

While masks aren’t mandatory for customers, the company said pharmacy staff are still required to wear masks while other employees are “encouraged” to wear them.

Shoppers is one of many retailers removing or rolling back COVID-19 protocols introduced at the height of the pandemic as government restrictions eased across the country.

The moves come as public health officials and infectious disease experts warn of a potential seventh wave of the pandemic, driven by subvariants of the Omicron strain. Last week, Quebec’s director of public health and Ontario’s top doctor both said the seventh wave had arrived in their province.

Fast food chain Tim Hortons said unless otherwise directed by a local health unit, acrylic screens are now optional in their restaurants and employees “may choose to wear a mask.”

“COVID restrictions have been rolled back over the past few months based on changes to local public health standards,” Tim Hortons said in an email.

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A pedestrian walks past a Tim Hortons Inc. restaurant in downtown Vancouver.
A pedestrian walks past a Tim Hortons Inc. restaurant in downtown Vancouver. Photo by Ben Nelms/Bloomberg Files

Those using Canada Post Corporation postal services can also expect to be greeted by maskless employees and other customers.

The crown corporation said in an email that employees, contractors and visitors are no longer required to wear face coverings in Canada Post facilities as of June 16.

“Over the past few months, we have been gradually rolling back temporary health and safety measures related to COVID-19 in accordance with guidance from the Public Health Agency of Canada,” said spokesperson Phil Legault.

And while Canada’s postal operator continues to use floor markers and plastic barriers to encourage physical distancing at all of its corporate post offices, these are optional for a host company’s postal outlets. .

“With health and safety being our top priority, we continue to lift certain measures after careful consideration,” Legault said.

Face masks are also optional for franchisees and staff at The UPS Store locations in Canada, starting June 30, the United Parcel Service subsidiary said in an email.

The dispatch service said it had “not asked our network as a whole” to remove the security barriers or plexiglass screens it had provided at all locations in Canada.

The Retail Council of Canada said COVID-19 protocols, like keeping masking, plexiglass barriers or directional arrows in place, are all up to the retailer.

“Retailers are making these decisions while keeping in mind the potential impact of these decisions on employees and customers,” said national spokeswoman Michelle Wasylyshen.

She said that in most provinces businesses are still required to have a communicable disease plan in place as well as a mitigation strategy to protect workers. As a result, many board members still have barriers, daily checks, and touchpoint cleaning policies they adhere to.

Some retailers even replace and renew barriers that show signs of wear, Wasylyshen said, noting that plexiglass tends to become cloudy over time from cleaning chemicals.

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They do this “because they anticipate they will be needed for another wave in late summer or fall,” she said.

Companies like Dollarama Inc. said plexiglass at checkout counters remains in place for their thousands of stores across the country.

“We have not removed any plexiglass barriers from our stores and have no plans to do so,” supermarket Metro Inc. said in an email.

Loblaw, for its part, said the measures it introduced only applied to Shoppers, not its other chains, such as grocer Loblaw’s.

United Food and Commercial Workers Canada, a private sector union representing workers at big companies such as Loblaw, Metro, Sobeys and more, said it is ensuring that any concerns raised by union members regarding pandemic protocols is properly considered by employers.

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