An Update from Our CEO – Choices’ Covid-19 Response
The past weeks have been particularly busy in our stores and we have been doing everything we can to support our local communities and keep everyone safe and healthy. Our focus remains on keeping our shelves stocked and our stores safe for our valued customers, their families and our team, and are doing our best to keep everyone updated on the measures that we have been implementing.
We remain committed to following the advice and guidance of the Health Authorities, the World Health Organization, Centres for Disease Control and other qualified bodies, as well as developing our own best practices to ensure that we can continue to be there for you as we find our way through this pandemic together.
We thought that it would be helpful to summarize the actions we have been taking, and continue to take, so that you can rely on us to meet you and your family’s needs during this critical time.
Among many activities and protocols, we have:
- Increased the frequency of disinfecting and sanitizing our tills, food contact areas, carts and baskets and frequently touched surfaces to step up our already high standards of food safety.
- Implemented physical-distancing protocols including floor markers and signs to remind people to leave two metres (six feet) of space between one another.
- Limited the total number of staff and customers allowed inside our stores to 50% of fire code to allow for two metres of social distancing between each person in the building. We are grateful that the health authorities have recognized the 50 person limit did not apply to us due to the large size of our operations relative to other community gathering places.
- Strictly enforced crowd size to keep our shopping environments safe from the potential effects of overcrowding.
- Instituted quantity limits on products in high demand so all shoppers have the opportunity to obtain the items they need.
- Removed the charge on single-use plastic bags and paper bags during this period of discouraging the use of reusable bags to avoid potential contamination.
- Started the process of securing and installing protective plexiglass barriers at all checkouts.
To serve the needs of our local communities while protecting the health of everyone, we have:
- Given preferred access in the first hour of our operations to seniors and vulnerable shoppers, along with the health care workers and first-responders that are the front-line in protecting all of us.
- Adjusted our store hours to allow time for stocking, cleaning and providing our team with much needed rest.
- Closed self-serve hot bars, salad bars and non-packaged bulk foods and coffee to eliminate the potential spread of the virus through high-touch areas.
- Moved all self-serve bakery and deli items from our cases and placed into pre-packaged bags and containers.
- Temporarily suspended services such as bottle returns and lotto ticket sales until we can develop methods for eliminating potential touch exposure for our team members and customers.
- Worked with debit and credit card issuers to increase the tap payment limits for cards and mobile device payments to remove one more touch point for you.
To take care of our teams:
- We have introduced a $2.00/hour premium for all our incredible team members retroactive to March 8, to recognize and show our appreciation for our team and their hard work and dedication to serving our customers.
- We are working to add additional team members to allow the opportunity for our existing team to rest and re-energize as needed.
For as long as we are able, we will:
- Continue to offer you specials on products on a weekly and monthly basis.
- Do our best to have full shelves and offer the products you need.
- Continue to support our customers and the communities we serve as best we can.
We will not:
- Unfairly raise our prices to take advantage of our customers during these unprecedented times.
Over the past week, we have received many emails, social media posts and other communications from you, our customers, to express your gratitude and appreciation for the efforts of our team members and the positive, friendly way they are welcoming you to our stores. Wherever possible, we are passing along those positive sentiments to our team as it truly means a lot to them.
It has been quite moving to see how all our communities and we as Canadians have come together, looking out for one another and supporting each other during these times.
What we ask of you:
- Respect the physical distancing measures we have put in place for the protection of you and our team and to comply with guidance from Health Authorities.
- Do not bring your family with you grocery shopping. Instead, have one person from the household do the shopping.
- Do not socialize in the store with your friends and neighbours to help us with physical distancing and the number of people that can be inside the store under maximum occupancy rules.
- Buy only what you need until your next shopping trip so that there will be enough of the high demand items for others in the community.
- Do not come to the store if you are sick. Have a friend, neighbour or community group do the shopping for you, or call us to see if we can help.
- Wash your hands often and avoid touching items you do not intend to purchase.
We are proud to be members of your community and we are grateful for your support. We are in this together. We will get through this together.
Ishkandar Ahmed, CEO