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Coronavirus: Opinions mixed among Montreal shoppers on COVID-19 safety measures

COVID-19: Montreal shoppers adjusting to a new normal on Sainte-Catherine Street
WATCH: COVID-19: Montreal shoppers adjusting to a new normal on Sainte-Catherine Street

Standing around and waiting is the new name of the game if you want to get inside a popular store amid the coronavirus pandemic, as stores limit capacity in keeping with public safety recommendations.

According to public health officials, staying two metres apart from other people is one of the best ways to protect yourself in the middle of the global pandemic. Still, some shoppers worry contracting COVID-19 is just a cough or sneeze away.

“I’m always scared someone is going to cough on me or get really close to me,” says avid shopper Camille Laverdure.

While she likes to shop in person, it’s nothing like before, she says.

“Its definitely more stressful, with all the one-ways in the stores its hard to stay focused on what you’re shopping for,” Laverdure says.

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READ MORE: Quebec sees 43 new coronavirus deaths as hospitalizations continue to drop

Quebec health regulations state each commercial enterprise must implement the preventive measures recommended by public health authorities and occupational health and safety specialists. The measures include a limited number of customers in the stores and the shopping centre, full barriers at cash registers, information booths and restaurant service counters, and one-way traffic as far as possible.

To avoid the crowds, some shoppers are early risers.

“I come here around 9:45 a.m. so I can skip the line, grab everything I have and just go home before it gets too crowded. I take one bus — I try to avoid the subways — and if the buses are too crowded I just call an Uber,” Pearl Desir told Global News.

Montreal-area retail stores reopen as COVID-19 lockdown eases
Montreal-area retail stores reopen as COVID-19 lockdown eases

At Sports Experts, staff say they are constantly having to drive home the public health guidelines to their clientele.

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“We have to remind people about distancing because some people forget about it, so we have to do it every day,” says Louis Côté, director of operations of the downtown store.

Côté insists physical distancing measures not only help protect the shoppers, but they’re also creating a new customer service experience.

“It’s a new way to serve the customer but it’s not a bad thing. I think we give more attention to the customer — our focus is to serve them,” Côté told Global News.

READ MORE: Canadians fear 2nd wave of COVID-19, increasingly wearing face masks: poll

Walking through the streets of downtown Montreal, many shoppers appear divided –some are wearing masks while others insist they’re safe without them.

“We wear mask but a lot of people don’t so it can be frustrating sometimes,” said Laetitia Balloster.

“I don’t believe that a mask — if I’m not sick — is going to prevent me from getting anything,” said Sasha Saliby.

Health Matters: Study confirms masks, social distancing measures do help curb the spread of COVID-19
Health Matters: Study confirms masks, social distancing measures do help curb the spread of COVID-19

As restrictions continue to loosen and more stores open up, some Montrealers say they are starting to feel a sense of normalcy.

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“It’s not super empty or super crowded so it feels nice to come back to normal,” said Saliby.

The retail council of Quebec (CQCD) recommends stores allow 50 per cent or less than maximum capacity, but it’s not mandatory.

“The overall shopping trip, we realize, is faster so the turn-around of the line up is also faster. Sometimes when you go to a store and see a line, it’s not as bad as it seems and it goes fairly fast,” said CQCD’s Stéphane Drouin.

READ MORE: Quebec health experts call on province to make masks mandatory

While the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases continues to drop on a daily basis, public health authorities have warned the numbers could spike again if people don’t follow safety recommendations.