Elevators during COVID-19 are a tricky thing.
If someone is already on my apartment’s elevator, then I will pass it up because of the close quarters, and I certainly don’t want anyone jumping on an elevator with me already on it.
So on Saturday when I got on the elevator at the Whole Foods in Burnaby in the Brentwood area, I was caught off-guard when a dude jumped on as the doors were closing.
The doors shut and it was too late for me to tell him I would prefer he got off, so I let it go. Also, the elevator at Whole Foods is really big so I figured I was safe. (Yes, I take this stuff really seriously.)
Then I noticed “Dude in Burnaby” wasn’t wearing a mask.
This was a problem because as of Aug. 25, Whole Foods Market shoppers are now required to wear face masks or similar covering, following the implementation of a new mandate.
There are now signs everywhere, including a big one outside of the elevator.
So I politely told “Dude in Burnaby” that he needed to mask up.
“No I don’t,” he said.
“Did you see the sign outside of the elevator?” I asked. “Whole Foods says it’s mandatory now.”
“F$%* me,” said “Dude in Burnaby” – his hand smacking his forehead (please don’t touch your face, according to Dr. Bonnie Henry). “Is there anywhere you can shop in this town without a f$%*ing mask? I hate these things.”
“Well, it is safer,” I said through my mask.
“Dude in Burnaby” just rolled his eyes as I got off the elevator. He didn’t get off and the doors shut.
At least he didn’t try and force the issue by shopping without a mask and then waiting for someone to tell him and making a big scene.
That’s, uh, something.
Whole Foods joins several other grocers and retailers serving Metro Vancouver and B.C., like T&T in Burnaby, Loblaw Inc. brands No Frills and Real Canadian Superstore, TJX Companies (HomeSense, Winners, Marshalls) and Walmart Canada, in requiring shoppers to don non-medical face masks while in their stores. (Although when it comes to Walmart, some shoppers say the mask policy isn’t always enforced at the Burnaby locations.)
Recently, an employee at the Whole Foods Brentwood location in Burnaby came forward to express fears about working in the store after a colleague tested positive for COVID-19.
The store employee who spoke to the Burnaby NOW said they were frustrated that the company refused to disclose the date of the positive COVID-19 test, and other workplace-related details regarding the infected team member.
“The safety of our Team Members and customers is our top priority and we are diligently following all guidance from local health and food safety authorities,” said Whole Foods in a statement. “We’ve been working closely with our store Team Members, and are supporting the diagnosed Team Member, who is in quarantine. Out of an abundance of caution, the store has performed a professional deep cleaning and disinfection, on top of our current enhanced sanitation measures. All Whole Foods Market stores continue to operate under social distancing and crowd control measures. Additionally, we have installed Plexiglass barriers at check out, are requiring temperature checks and face masks for anyone working in our stores, and have implemented enhanced daily cleanliness and disinfection protocols in all of our stores.”
Whole Foods Market operates seven stores in British Columbia, six of which are in Metro Vancouver. There are three stores in Vancouver (Cambie, Robson, Kitsilano), one in North Vancouver, one in West Vancouver and one in Victoria.
Follow Chris Campbell on Twitter @shinebox44.