Grocery store example could help businesses wanting to reopen

Grocery store example could help businesses wanting to reopen
WatchVancouver Island's business community wants direction on how to re-open and the grocery store model could help. Tess van Straaten reports.

Plexiglas safety barriers, physical distancing signs and one-way floor markers like we now see at grocery stores will be the new normal as B.C. begins to reopen for business.

“Once we started to put everything in place, it’s become more of a normal shopping experience again with a lot less people in the store,” explains Country Grocer’s Craig Calvin.

The grocery store model is being held up by BC health officials an example of how businesses can keep customers and staff safe — along with more online orders and curbside pick-up.

“The biggest challenge with everything was not having a blueprint to go on,” Calvin says. “We were winging everything from the start. Nobody’s obviously gone through anything like this.”

With so many shops still shuttered. and the economy taking a big hit. the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce says business owners are looking for clear rules on how to re-open.

They’re also asking the province to help rebuild customer confidence.

“Right now, what we need is a clear message from the premier and Dr. Henry that it’s okay to go back and be a patron of those businesses locally that rely on your business,” says Greater Victoria  Chamber of Commerce CEO Catherine Holt.

But the province says it will really depend on the business.

Some sectors, like the hard-hit tourism industry, may have to wait even longer.

“We can’t throw open our doors and undo all the work we have done to stop the spread,” says Health Minister Adrian Dix. “We must be thoughtful and careful, still basing our measures on science, when we start re-opening our society and our economy.”

Experts say it’s a balancing act, but a necessary one.

“It’s about finding a balance, finding ways to re-launch the economy and find ways to maintain some economic activity and at the same time finding the right space for people’s safety and health,” says Astrid Brousselle, the director of the University of Victoria’s School of Public Administration.

But stores like Country Grocer are an example it can work.

“It’s going to be tough at first to get used to the new normal, it does get better,” Calvin says.

Tess van StraatenTess van Straaten

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