Every day Shaylin Thulin goes home from her job at the Murrayville IGA store in Langley at 22259 48 Ave., the very first thing she does when she steps through the door is to drop her bag of work clothes by the door and take a shower.
And right after that, she takes her work clothes and runs them through the washing machine in the Aldergrove house she shares with her parents.
“Everything goes straight into the washer,” Thulin told the Langley Advance Times.
Thulin said customers have been generally well-behaved, but there are occasional moments that reveal the emotional impact of the COVID-19 virus outbreak.
“There are some customers, who, if someone gets too close to them, will tell them off,” Thulin recounted.
Her place of work, like every other grocery store, has had to alter the way it does business during the current gobal pandemic.
Instead of being able to enter and exit from either side of the building, traffic is now restricted to one entrance door on one side of the building while exits are restricted to the other.
There are limits on the numbers of people allowed inside to preserve spacing between customers.
Inside, there are floor markers to show customers exactly how wide a six-foot “social distancing” gap is while they queue up at the cash registers, where staff like Thulin ring up purchases from behind a tall transparent plastic barrier.
Like most stores, the IGA has given workers a temporary two-dollar-an-hour pay boost during the coronavirus outbreak.
Thulin and her co-workers are constantly wiping down surfaces with industrial-strength disinfectants, including counter tops and store buggy handles.
Everyone wears protective gloves.
“It can be stressful at times,” Thulin observed.
“We’re doing the best we can to keep our customers and ourselves safe.”
Her advice to customers is “leave space,” by respecting social distancing with each other and her fellow workers.
“Ask us to move and we will,” Thulin promised.
Store manager Andrea Grimm is proud of the way her people have responded to the crisis.
“We have great staff,” Crimm enthused.
With 10 of 65 employees self-isolating because of suspected exposure to the virus, Grimm has had to scramble to find fill-in workers to cover shifts.
So far, they’re managing.
“This team has been really positive,” Grimm said. “It’s incredible.”
Like many stores, the Murrayville IGA has been setting limits on some purchases such as eggs, toilet paper and other products that have been flying off the shelves.
Unlike some stores that have to order from a central warehouse, the IGA in Murrayville has been able to replenish supplies faster because it can go directly to vendors, Grimm explained.
As well, the store offers seniors-only shopping twice a week, Wednesday and Friday mornings from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has said that while her order prohibiting mass gatherings of 50 does not directly apply to the retail food and grocery industry, “the spirit of the order should be followed.”
In large grocery stores where it is feasible to have more than 50 people present at one time, it is allowed to do so “provided that appropriate physical distancing can be maintained,” Henry said.
Government guidelines call for enhancing the premise’s sanitation plan and schedule, and ensuring staff are practising proper hygiene. This includes frequent hand washing, only coughing or sneezing into an elbow, and avoiding touching one’s face;
Guidelines also call for placing hand sanitizer with a minimum of 60 per cent ethyl alcohol in dispensers near doors, pay stations and other high-touch locations for customer and staff use; ensuring washrooms are always well-stocked with liquid soap and paper towels, that warm running water is available.
Customers should not be using their own containers, reusable bags or boxes.
There should be markers to let people know proper distancing and the sale of bulk items should be halted, except by gravity feed bins or where staff dispense the items.
Any worker with COVID-19-like symptoms, such as sore throat, fever, sneezing or coughing, must self-isolate at home for 14 days.
Employers should reassess their work environment every day and keep updated with the information posted on the Province’s website: www.gov.bc.ca/COVID19.