Everyday COVID-19 heroes: Vancouver Island grocery workers

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WatchAs many continue to stay home and brace for the COVID-19 crisis to get worse, there are some who are still clocking-in and keeping the rest of us going. Employees of grocery stores are some of those who are braving the front lines. Julian Kolsut has their story.

For many who are at home trying to avoid COVID-19, the grocery store is one stop many of us are forced to make once in a while.

But some are working there every day to keep the rest of us going.

“Working class heroes!,” said Eric Nordal of the Retail Action Network.

“I would say traditionally the service industry has been so underpaid, hours have always been inconsistent, and I think here is a shift where people realize how important service industry work is.”

A month ago, it would be strange to call them heroes, but now it seems like an understatement. But they remain humble.

” I don’t know about heroes. I am lucky enough to work for a fantastic company with great people… and we are just doing what we can to help,” said Kris Ellis, Royal Oak’s Country Grocer floral manager.

They face the COVID-19 fear head-on.

“It’s a little nerve-wracking for sure,” said Kaitlyn Vennels, Royal Oak’s Country Grocer produce and cut fruit employee.

“But I mean we are always making sure we have gloves on and washing our hands. and wiping everything down and keeping it as clean as we can.”

And they are stepping in wherever needed.

“This week I am doing door security from seven to 10 a.m.,” said Ellis.

“Then try to scoot into a few of my floral duties. Which right now there are not a whole lot of. We all jump in and bag groceries when we can. We stock shelves. Leave tired but feel pretty good by the time we leave.”

At the end of the day, they join others who are putting in the work to keep everything going.

To keep these important employees on the job during the COVID-19 crisis there are some steps consumers can take to keep these workers safe.

“Respect the call from the ministry of health,” said Nordal.

“And other calls that are instructing us to not go out if we don’t have to. Not put anyone else at risk if we aren’t feeling well. Cause that will largely come back to people who are serving your take-out or bagging your groceries.”

So next time you are at the store, don’t be afraid to let them know they are everyday heroes.

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