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Major Coquitlam-area grocery store brings back capacity limits during Omicron surge

Save-On-Foods limits customers to 50 per cent at its five Tri-City grocery stores, will post signs to encourage physical distancing at typically congested areas as the bakery and the deli.
A Save-on-Foods store on Austin Avenue in Coquitlam has limited capacity to 50 per cent.

In an effort to increase social distancing, a western Canada grocery chain has brought back capacity limits.

At the front door of each Save-On-Foods store, a sign has been posted indicating the number of patrons allowed in at any one time.

Save-On-Foods has five stores in the Tri-Cities — three in Coquitlam (Austin Avenue, plus two on Lougheed Highway) and two in Port Coquitlam (Prairie Avenue and Ottawa Street) — and all are instituting the company-wide measure.

In an emailed statement, the company said the efforts are to reduce congestion and ensure the safety of customers and staff.

“As part of our ongoing and increased efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19 in our stores and our communities, we will operate our B.C. stores at a maximum 50% occupancy until further notice.”

“This operating capacity is in line with how we have been operating since the start of the pandemic,” the spokesperson stated.

In addition to the occupancy count with signage at the front of each store, Save-On-Foods teams will increase signage in areas that typically see congestion such as at the front end, or in service departments like our deli or bakery.

The measures are part of the store’s new safety plan which has been reinstated as required by the provincial health officer.

Other measures include.

  • following all public health orders in every community
  • increased frequency of disinfecting and sanitizing all areas of the store
  • providing sanitizing stations and hand sanitizer for customers and team members
  • implementing a symptom checker for all team members, suppliers or business partners prior to entering the building
  • added signage at the front of every store asking customer not to enter if they have any symptoms of COVID-19
  • installed protective plexiglass barriers throughout the store.

The Tri-Cities has seen a drop in reported COVID-19 cases, but the BC Centre of Disease Control (BCCDC) detected 1,843 COVID-19 infections across Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Anmore and Belcarra in the first week of January.

That was down from a record 2,055 the last week of December.

While counts are dropping, hospitalizations have hit a record of 854 cases yesterday (Jan. 18).

When the Tri-City News visited the Austin Avenue store this morning (Jan. 19), a clerk said she believed the measure was introduced on the weekend.

There was no one counting customers, but the store wasn't busy at the time.

Save-On-Foods' efforts to reduce capacity comes as Dr. Bonnie Henry has allowed gyms to re-open, but with strict capacity measures.

Starting tomorrow (Jan. 20), gyms can re-open but must limit operation to one customer per seven meters squared of floor space. Proof of vaccination will continue to be required.

All other restrictions, including capacity limits and the closure of nightclubs/bars, have been extended to at least Feb. 16.

- with files from Kyle Balzer, Tri-City News