Grocery Shopping During COVID-19 Means Social Distancing

Vegetables are pictured at the opening day of the International Green Week (Internationale Gruene Woche) agriculture and food fair in Berlin, Germany, January 18, 2019. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

THUNDER BAY – Despite repeated assurances that there is no need for panic buying, many people have seemed determined to grab as much as they can. There have been comments shared on social media of people having toilet paper grabbed from their carts at grocery stores.

For the most part, a majority of people have been treating each other with respect in the stores. There is a lot of real Canadian politeness happening as people respectfully keep their distance from each other.

Metro President and CEO Eric La Flèche Shares a Message

The crisis caused by the pandemic has taken on unprecedented proportions. With containment measures, the closure of many public places, and social distancing, our lives have been significantly affected. More than ever, we need to ensure our safety and that of our loved ones.

With our vast network of food stores and pharmacies, METRO is ready and we are doubling up our efforts to continue to serve you well and to ensure you are safe in our stores.

Our supply chain is strong

Our teams have worked and are continuing to work tirelessly to maintain the availability of all food, medication and over-the-counter health products. Our supply chain is robust and is functioning well. We are working with our suppliers to ensure a continuous supply. There are still some issues on a few products, but the situation is improving.

We are committed to offering you competitive prices and specials that you are used to seeing in our weekly flyers. But we are also paying special attention to product availability so as not to disappoint you, should an item be out of stock when you visit our stores.

Everyone’s health and safety are always at the heart of our decisions

We are implementing new measures in our network of stores and pharmacies every day to ensure the safety of our employees and our customers. We want to offer you a clean, safe and pleasant environment. Here are some of the most recent measures:

  • Our business hours have been reduced. This will give our employees a well- deserved break and enable us to restock shelves safely.
  • Our stores continue to be cleaned on a regular basis according to very high standards of hygiene, and we are increasing the frequency of our equipment cleaning rounds, particularly in high traffic areas of the store.
  • As of Monday, in many of our grocery stores in Ontario, we have reserved the first hour of shopping, from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m., exclusively for seniors and more vulnerable customers.
  • We are starting to install Plexiglass shields at the checkouts and floor stickers at check-out lines and other high traffic areas to ensure customers comply with the social distancing rules of keeping 1 to 2 metres apart.
  • Our cash registers now allow contactless payment up to $250 for most credit cards, to reduce keypad handling.
  • Among other things, we have closed our bulk counters, soup bars, olive bars and bread-slicers.
  • Our stores are now applying a limit for in-store traffic to respect the rules of social distancing at all times.

A big Thank you to our employees

It is important to recognize the remarkable efforts of our employees and ensure that they have peace of mind during this exceptional period:

  • The wages of employees working in our stores and distribution centres will be increased retroactively by $2 per hour, from March 8 to May 2.
  • We are offering our employees an additional benefit ensuring an income replacement rate equivalent to 95% of their wages in case of isolation.
  • In the coming days, we will also be offering an Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) to all colleagues in our stores, distribution centres and offices to provide them with the support and advice they need.

Our pharmacists are there for you, even at home

Our pharmacists have your well-being at heart and will continue to advise you. As front-line health-care professionals, pharmacists are directly accessible to answer your health-related questions. However, if you experience symptoms related to COVID-19, please stay home and contact your pharmacist by phone. He or she can direct you to the right resources.

You can also refill your medication remotely, either by phone, on the web or through a mobile application. A delivery service is offered by most Jean Coutu and Brunet affiliated pharmacies.

Fewer unnecessary trips are better

We encourage you to make good use of our grocery stores and pharmacies by consolidating your purchases to limit your trips. Designate only one person in your household to do the shopping. These are simple ways to reduce traffic in our establishments and ensure that social distancing measures are respected.

Online groceries

Our online grocery service is proving to be extremely popular. New delivery windows we open fill up quickly to meet growing demand.  We are continuing to increase our online grocery capacity to serve the people in our communities who need it most. But we ask that you use this service responsibly as well.

Like you, we don’t know how long this pandemic will last. We do know, however, that the pandemic is changing our lives and bringing with it a great deal of concern. As for us, we will take care of you by continuing to offer the food items, drugs and other prescriptions, and products that you need in our grocery stores and pharmacies.

Our promise to serve you better every day would not be possible without the outstanding work of our employees. We are very proud of them and I ask that you be patient with them. They are making exceptional efforts every day.

In conclusion, thank you for your loyalty and trust. We are honoured to serve you and to contribute to the best of our ability to this collective effort.


Eric La Flèche

President and CEO


Every gesture counts

Here is a checklist to ensure your safety and that of our employees:

1. Follow the guidelines issued by government authorities.

2. If you have any symptoms, do not go to a store or pharmacy. You can call your pharmacist for advice.

3. Avoid shopping in a group or with your family. Have a designated shopper and limit your trips.

4. If you are unable to shop, ask someone else to do it for you.

5. Respect the rules of social distancing before and during your shopping, and at the checkout.

6. Avoid over-handling products and buy only what you need.

7. Pay with credit or debit cards, if possible.

8. If you can’t get to a store or pharmacy, check out the online grocery services or delivery services offered by many grocery stores or pharmacies.

9. Be patient with other customers and employees that you encounter along the way.

Thank you for your collaboration!

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