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Store remains open despite COVID-19 cases

Second employee tests positive for COVID-19

By Courtney Bachar/The Oshawa Express

It’s back to business for an Oshawa grocery store after a series of sad and unexpected incidents took place.

The Real Canadian Superstore on Gibb Street has felt the wrath of COVID-19 after two of its employees recently tested positive for the virus, one of whom has since died.

The store was closed for a brief time on March 28 for a deep clean after it was confirmed a second employee had tested positive for the virus, according to a statement released by the store.

“A second colleague at the Oshawa Gibb Street Real Canadian Superstore has tested positive on a presumptive test for COVID-19. The store has been closed, and a third-party crew will come in to thoroughly clean and disinfect this location,” the statement reads. “We appreciate your support and patience during this time.”

Dave McAlman, manager of the Real Canadian Superstore Gibb Street location, declined to comment and referred all comments to Loblaw Corporate. A request to corporate for comment went unanswered at the time of the Express’ deadline.

News of the second confirmed case comes less than one week after the store released a similar statement on March 23 announcing the positive test result for employee Keith Saunders, who died in hospital just a few days later.

Saunders’ wife Katy released a statement stating her husband had been admitted to hospital on March 19. On March 26, Katy released a second statement that her husband had passed away.

“I am doing my best to try and navigate this nightmare. Unfortunately, I lost my soulmate and angel,” the statement reads. “He wore his heart on his sleeve. Was extremely dedicated to his job and coworkers. But never was too busy to help anyone and everyone. I love you my wolverine. Forever and always your wife and silver fox. You fought till your last breath. We will be together soon.”

Despite two confirmed COVID-19 cases arising at the location, the store currently remains open.

Galen Weston, executive chair for Loblaw Companies Limited, said in a statement stores continue to operate in a stable “new normal,” and expressed his thanks for everyone’s patience, understanding and support.

However, Weston also expressed concern for the amount of people who are ignoring social distancing requests while shopping, including the number of people who are shopping in groups and treating it as a social outing.

“On the surface, these kinds of actions can seem harmless, but they are quite concerning for other customers and colleagues,” Weston says, adding although incidents like this are still rare, frustrations are growing.

“So, please do everything you can to be respectful of the protocols we have put in place – for everyone’s safety.”

In his statement, Weston noted the PC Express e-commerce service is an option for shoppers, however, he reminds shoppers to be patient with the increased wait times as the service is now running at three times the normal levels.

An order placed two weeks ago would have been ready in an hour, Weston explains, however, with the increase in service levels, it can now take four days at least.

“We are taking steps to improve, reducing the available assortment on the website to help us to pick your order more quickly, and opening new time slots for pick-up,” Weston states, adding they will continue to look for ways to increase the capacity.

In the interim, Weston says there are things shoppers can do, such as planning ahead and placing an order a few days before the need for groceries arises.

While Weston says he realizes some residents may still feel anxious about having to navigate crowds at stores, he suggests trying to shop at a different time of day as one option.

In a previous video statement, Weston states the corporation is doing its part to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all its employees and customers.

“We know you’re relying on us, even as COVID-19 spreads,” Weston says. “At this time, authorities continue to assure us that the risk of shopping is low. But we’re counting on you to help by giving our colleagues and each other lots of space. Stay safe, and be kind.”