As the pandemic continues in Canada and around the world, it has become necessary for the Co-op to take further steps in the effort to limit its spread. As a critical service provider to our community, we need to ensure that the Co-op remains as safe and as accessible as possible for our staff and our customers.

First, the Cafe is closed immediately and indefinitely. We can give no estimate for a reopening date. However, we will continue to supply the store with ready-to-eat food as best we can. So, for example, we will no longer have hot soup but we will have chilled and/or frozen soup available for you to take home. We will have sandwiches and wraps in the store, and we are working on ways to have other hot foods in the store. We will also continue to serve our whole range of baked goods in the store although they will all be prepackaged.

Second, the Store hours are reduced from 10 AM to 6 PM daily. We are experiencing a relatively high level of sales and we are trying to use our limited staffing hours as efficiently as possible. A reduced schedule allows us to provide more services – like grocery delivery and preparing orders for pick-up and serving customers. This takes effect on Monday, March 23rd. 

Third, all food is prepackaged or has to be served by staff. The Vancouver Island Health Authority required us to shut down our bulk bins. We are now packaging popular bulk items for people to pick up directly. If you need something else, you can ask a staff person to fulfill your request between the hours of 12 and 4 PM each day. Outside of these hours, no one may be available to help you; even during these hours, you will have to be patient. The only other item we are serving is coffee; ask for it at the store counter.

Take advantage of our grocery delivery and pick-up services. Please follow the guidelines so that we can serve you best.

Here are some other changes we must follow right now:

  • No returns or refunds. We cannot risk bringing contaminated items back into our store. All sales are final. This includes bottle deposits.
  • No personal bags or containers. Again, we cannot allow such items into our store for risk of contamination. The only exception right now is containers for bulk soaps.
  • Minimize cash. For now, we encourage you to use cards instead of cash. The less we handle it, the better. You can use the ATM machine if you need cash for other purchases.

Here are the most important updated actions we are taking in addition to what we outlined out in our last post:

  • Requiring staff to follow social distancing protocols
  • Requiring staff who may be sick to stay home
  • Making masks, gloves, and other protective gear available to staff as we have it

We ask that you, our members and customers, do your part as well. In addition to what we outlined in our last post, we picked up these tips from the Kootenay Co-op.

In order to limit the number of people in the store, please do the following:

  • Shop less frequently and purchase more items at one time
  • Pre-plan your grocery shop by making a shopping list before coming to the store
  • Send one person from your household to shop instead of multiple people and leave children at home whenever possible
  • Shop intentionally to get what you need and reduce browsing
  • Please assist with bagging and boxing your own groceries to keep line-ups moving

In order to limit the spread of COVID-19 and keep our staff safe, do not enter the store if any of the following apply to you:

  •     Fever, cough, sore throat or difficulty breathing
  •     Sick or feeling unwell 
  •     Returned from abroad in the last 14 days
  •     Been asked to quarantine or self-isolate
  •     Knowingly interacted with someone who has COVID-19 or is awaiting test results

During this critical time, we reserve the right to ask people to leave the store. The reason may be as simple as there are too many people in the store already.  Remember that we are trying to keep everyone safe and healthy.

Right now, in spite of the tremendous volume of business we’re seeing in the store, we are staying well-stocked. Some suppliers are limiting the product they will sell to us in certain cases; so, for example, bulk bags of rice have become extremely popular and some suppliers are limiting how many bags our store can buy. Obviously toilet paper and hand sanitizer are hard to get. However, overall, we are getting 90% of the regular stock we are ordering for the store even if some of our bulk pre-orders aren’t coming through. Thanks for continuing to remain calm and allowing our systems to serve you; while some stocking up may be prudent, there is no need to panic.

At this time, we have no reported cases of COVID-19 on the island. We have asked three staff members to stay home because of illness. Our approach continues to be to take reasonable action as recommended or required by government agencies. Health Canada has classified the risk to Canadians as low, and yet we know we can all save lives by taking action now. We will continue to take this situation one day at a time and respond as best we can. We may decide to take further action as the situation warrants. If we do so, we will communicate these actions with all staff and customers. For now, we remain committed to being open in order to serve the community.

In addition to all the requirements and recommendations we’re hearing everywhere we go, remember that we’re in this together. Keep your distance, but continue to talk to people anyway. Right now a big smile is just as comforting as a big hug. Recognize that many people lost their jobs last week and show compassion for them. Recognize that many people are at high risk and you may not see them out and about – give them a call and check in. And say thank you to the people working like crazy right now – those who are treating the sick and those who keep our food flowing.  

If you have any comments or suggestions, you can send Eric, our General Manager, a message. Thank you for your business and continued support for our community enterprise.  And thank you for helping us prevent the spread of the COVID-19 infection.