Longo’s now requires customers to wear a mask while shopping in the chain’s stores, the latest development for a grocery industry trying to stay one step ahead of COVID-19.
The Toronto-based grocery chain said Monday that as of now, customers “are required to wear a mask or face covering while in the store.” That’s a step beyond the previous policy, which only required store employees to wear masks.
Grocery chains have come under tremendous pressure in the current pandemic, as higher-than-usual demand for food and other supplies because of lockdowns have made it harder for grocery store staff to do their job safely for themselves and their short-tempered customers.
While the science is not yet clear as to whether or not wearing a mask is an effective defense against contracting the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, health experts broadly encourage people to wear masks because they can help limit the spread if they are worn by infected people themselves.
Longo’s like many other retail chains has implemented physical distancing measures in store, such as partitions at cash and checkouts, limiting the number of people who can be in the store at any given time, and other measures. But the mask move is the first by a major Canadian grocery chain to mandate usage by customers, not just staff.
“Please bring one with you to keep everyone safe,” the company said in a statement. “If you have forgotten your face covering or need a mask, please speak with a Team Member at the store entrance.”
Children under two are exempt from the policy, although the chain like many others encouraged people to shop alone to begin with.