Shoppers say physical distancing left up to them at busy grocery stores

By | April 7, 2020

The province has asked supermarkets and other essential businesses to make sure people follow physical distancing rules in their stores to curb the spread of COVID-19, but customers say it’s largely been left up to them to act responsibly.

“I’ve had someone say ‘you’re a little too close now,'” admitted shopper Laurie Chan, with a nervous giggle. “I apologized.”

Shopper Laurie Chan admits it can be hard to keep a distance from others while getting groceries. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

Manitoba’s major grocery chains say they’re respecting new limits on the number of people allowed in the shop at a time. Most outlets also have lines marked on the floor near the checkout, spacing people two metres apart as they wait.

But some shoppers say it’s trickier to maintain a safe distance as they make their way through the aisles. Signs have been posted, asking customers to be careful.

Shopper Mason Rhodes said he’s still seen people “bumping into each other.”

Mason Rhodes says he tries to stay two metres away from other customers, but has seen others ‘bumping into each other’ in the aisles. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

“I do my best to stay away from people,” he said, his arms overflowing with shopping bags. “If other people aren’t going to respect that, that’s their issue.”

Some chains, including Loblaws, Giant Tiger and Save-On-Foods have made high traffic aisles one-way, to help people maintain the two-metre distance.

“They have arrows down the lanes, so you go one way down one aisle, then you go the other way up the other,” said senior Jeannine Rozzi.

She says while most people maneuver the aisles correctly, she’s still had some close encounters.

Senior Jeannine Rozzi says she just steps out of the way when others get too close in the supermarket. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

“A couple of people aren’t that aware of it. So I just step back and go on my way.” 

Premier Brian Pallister agrees, most Manitobans are respecting physical distancing guidelines. But he says those who aren’t could force the province to crack down.

“It is a concern when people refuse to understand the hurtful consequences of their thoughtless conduct,” he said during a news conference Monday.

“It is on the radar to see if there are necessary deterrents that need to be pursued because of this.”

Brian Pallister said tougher rules could include penalties. More details are expected later this week.

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