OCTOBER 11, 2020 – As a middle aged man with a few health issues that could hurt me if I caught COVID-19 I’m very careful.
I’ve been masked up since December. After shopping in Cornwall and other places I’ve reduced my exposure even more.
What I personally am seeing is that Loblaws owned stores like No Frills or Your Independent Grocers in Cornwall appear to actually be telling their staff not to confront customers who do not wear a mask at all, or improperly or do not social distance properly.
That leaves it up to customers and that can lead to altercations.
Customers and staff should feel safe while shopping.
Frankly this is a problem caused by Ontario and the EOHU by not making clear rules with clear penalties, and not enforcing them.
We know that there isn’t any legitimate health reason to not wear a mask into a store and that no store can be forced to let people in without a mask.
Sadly we also know that in the Cornwall area the EOHU is simply not enforcing masks. They don’t appear to be boots on the ground inspections of facilities, even after cases are confirmed such as at the Walmart Distribution Centre in Cornwall or its store.
Friday I arrived at opening, 7AM. The gentleman at the door of Walmart was not wearing a mask. When asked he apologized and quickly put one on explaining that they were just opening.
Fair dinkum. He’s human; and it probably was just a mental fart.
Then I walked in and saw another, and another staff member. Staff without masks talking to each other. I stopped counting at eight, there were more, and I was just in the grocery section at that time.
Now this is one isolated incident of course, but it shows a very dangerous culture when it comes to protecting each other, but more importantly customers.
Another staffer when queried again pointed it to the store just opening, but that essentially means that when not open, staff may not be wearing masks. Which in turn means that any ill staff can infect other staff.
We know masking works. We know for example that the Tweed plant in Smiths Falls had a case where one of the Kingston Nail Salon infections worked there, but wore a mask to work. After tracing, happily no other infections spread.
It’s that simple. While not perfect, the wearing of a mask protects people. Without it; well just look at the President Trump Super Spreader event, or weddings, karaoke bars, and other instances . All it takes one ill person without a mask to cause an outbreak and possible death and illness.
I’m not singling out Walmart although frankly it was like a bad sci fi movie watching all these people in a grocery section not wearing masks and handling food while talking to each other without social distancing. Utter insanity, and Walmart should be fined and a manager or two fired for this. The EOHU should be requesting their in store video footage to inspect for staff not wearing mask or not wearing them properly that day.
No Frills in Cornwall has anecdotally been the worst store in Cornwall when it comes to enforcement. It’s Franchise owner tried blame Loblaws and then the EOHO over an instore incident a few weeks ago, but his staff again clearly and multiple times told this writer that management instructed them not to confront those not wearing masks.
From the EOHU:
What should my staff tell a customer/client that arrives without a mask?
Staff should remind customers/clients of the requirement to wear a mask in indoor public spaces. Staff should direct them to the signage at the entrance and encourage them to put on their mask if they have one. Staff are encouraged to remind individuals to ensure they have a mask for future visits to the establishment. No person should be required to provide proof of exemption.
If a customer is permitted to enter the premises without a mask, they must maintain a minimum physical distance of 2 metres from other persons within the premises.
Stores are not even remotely enforcing such a basic minimum. I was accosted in line by a customer who was not social distancing nor wearing mask. When confronted by myself and others in line he blew up and went to the front. He was still served by a cashier instead of being booted from the store.
Stores do have the option to refuse entry to ANYONE not wearing mask. There are no exemptions if they wish. Again, from the EOHU website:
It remains the business operator’s prerogative to allow or deny entry. An operator may choose to refuse entry to persons not wearing a mask in order to protect employees or other clients from COVID-19. Some businesses have corporate policies that will deny entry if a mask is not worn.
This second wave of COVID frankly is self inflicted. It’s the accumulation of a Government of Ontario not being tough on people not wearing masks and gathering until we have to shut down again, and shutting down isn’t good for anyone.
We simply need a clean law, not guideline, about the wearing of masks, a clear penalty for breaking the law, and clear language about how businesses enforce this.
One local store worker sent this is:
Store Management were hired to run retail operations and are on their companies payroll. We have not been hired or paid to do the jobs of the By-Law officers.
We are not paid to be accosted by anti maskers nor do we have any authority helping us to enforce these rules. We are constantly being threatened that we will be taken to court, filmed and place on social media for the viewing of the online judge and jury. They threaten to have us fired and we are than responsible to prove our case.
The EOHU and government make these lackluster rules and refuse to pay the proper people who have the authority to enforce them is putting all retail associates and public at risk. It is not the job of a poor 16 year shelf stocker to tell a pigheaded grown ass man to wear a mask and walk the right way down an ailes.
We have people that are paid to enforce the law let them earn their keep!
They are right of course. There are simple solutions. Walmart has security in its store in Cornwall for example. They should be able to enforce the wearing of masks.
And if the EOHU under Paul Roumeliotis can enforce cigarette laws, they should be able to enforce mask laws during a world wide pandemic. If not, he needs to be fired and replaced by someone who will keep this community safe.
People have to understand, especially with flu season coming, that social distancing is mandatory; and that wearing mask is mandatory; unless they really would prefer lockdowns and all the misery that comes with them.