How are grocery store clerks being protected?

Plexiglass shields, more frequent sanitization, and temporary pay increases.

In early to mid-March, most grocery stores were operating as normal, leading to concerns about their role in helping to flatten the curve.

Since then, many stores have implemented a variety of measures to protect both customers and staff:

  • Security staff count how many people enter and exit the store, to control the number inside at any given time;
  • Plexiglass shields (such as those made by Edmonton's Plastics Plus Ltd.) have been installed at checkouts;
  • Clerks often wear gloves and sanitize checkout stands after each customer;
  • Pylons outside the store and floor signs or tape inside the store (such as those made by Edmonton's Cowan Graphics) help encourage physical distancing.

For example, Safeway in Capilano is changing buckets of sanitized water at each checkout stand every 30 minutes. In between customers and every 15 minutes, clerks wipe down anything that customers might have touched. Staff must also sanitize washrooms every time they visit.

Grocery stores have been deemed essential services across Canada, and chains are recognizing the extra strain put on workers by increasing pay temporarily:

  • Loblaw Companies Ltd. (Superstore, Shoppers Drug Mart, No Frills) has increased pay for employees by 15% retroactive to March 8;
  • Empire (Sobeys, Safeway, IGA) has launched a "hero pay program" that provides workers with an additional $50 per week and $2/hour for every hour worked above 20 hours/week, also retroactive to March 8;
  • Amazon Canada has raised wages by $2/hour through the end of April for workers and they've doubled overtime rates;
  • Walmart Canada has raised wages by $2/hour starting April 3 and gave employees a $200 "appreciation bonus" in March.

Alberta Health Services has not discussed implementing specific measures for grocery stores but has created a list of ways Albertans can protect themselves while grocery shopping, reports CBC News.

UFCW Local 401, which represents more than 32,000 workers across Alberta in food processing, production, and retail, has put together a COVID-19 Resource Hub with information on support for workers, actions taken on behalf of members, and employer-specific policies.

Published By:
Mack Male

Mack Male

Thursday, April 2, 2020

by Karen Unland


business, food, grocery


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For the latest updates on the COVID-19 pandemic, see,,, and the World Health Organization.