A Loblaws at Dupont and Christie is temporarily closed as of Monday after a number of employees tested positive for COVID-19 and critics are questioning how many cases have been publicly reported, and what is being done to protect workers.
Beginning on Monday, the Loblaws, located at 650 Dupont St., will be converted to a PC Express store only providing pick-up grocery service, according to a Facebook post. The store’s pharmacy will also remain open for patients, and prescriptions can be picked up or delivered during regular pharmacy hours.
This announcement comes after the store notified the public about employees who had tested positive for COVID-19 on April 17, April 29, and May 2. After those incidents, the store assured consumers that they were working closely with public health officials to make sure the risk to customers remained low.
Customers were notified by email, but many are questioning how many employees were infected and why tests weren’t being conducted.
“[O]ne COVID question that’s been bothering me is that if a store has an outbreak like the Loblaws on DuPont and Christie currently has — and multiple employees are sick — how can keeping the store open and an extra clean overnight change anything at all? Why not close and test?” read one comment on Twitter.
one COVID question that’s been bothering me is that – if a store has an outbreak – like the Loblaws on DuPont and Christie currently has – and multiple employees are sick – how can keeping the store open and an extra clean overnight change anything at all? why not close and test? pic.twitter.com/MxBp7zNxCa
— Andrew Sampson (@andrewsampson_) May 9, 2020
UFCW Canada Local 1006A, which represents workers at the store, issued a press release calling for the store to be closed for cleaning for two weeks.
“We stand in solidarity with our members and their families during this immensely difficult and uncertain time,” said president Wayne Hanley.
Many on social media are urging employees to wear masks at all times and looking to the government to mandate a policy, while others are worried about two senior centres nearby and the risk of community spread putting seniors in jeopardy.
@CityCynthia @ColinDMello What’s the latest info on where the ON gov’t is mandating masks? Even just for store workers at this point. After what’s been happening at the Loblaws @ Christie & Dupont should create a bit of concern…
— J M (@JG_Mag) May 11, 2020
According to Toronto Public Health’s COVID-19 Guidance for Food Stores, staff who have symptoms of acute respiratory illness must stay home and not attend work until they are symptom-free for at least 24 hours, and staff who have travelled outside of Canada must stay home and self-isolate for 14 days after returning to Canada.
Stores typically undergo thorough cleaning after a staff member tests positive, and employees who have worked closely with the infected colleague are generally required to self-isolate and monitor for symptoms.