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Think you’re burned out from pandemic fatigue? Essential workers feeling it double, says union

Grocery store employees are feeling the COVID-19 stress, says their union. Getty Images

You may be feeling the effects of COVID-19 fatigue when it comes to following safety protocols while shopping, but at least you don’t have to do it every day, unlike essential workers at grocery stores.

If the public is experiencing pandemic fatigue, those workers are feeling it twice as hard, said Jeff Traeger, president of UFCW 832, the province’s largest labour union.

Read more: Manitoba ends restrictions on Sunday and holiday shopping hours

“Think of how sick the workers are that have to go through that each and every workday, day-in and day-out,” Traeger told 680 CJOB.

“They’re frustrated, they’re burnt out, they’re tired.”

That fatigue, in many cases, has increased as Manitoba’s shopping hours recently expanded.

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Last week, the province introduced legislation to end the restrictions on Sunday and holiday shopping hours across Manitoba, citing the unique situation created by the pandemic as one of the reasons for the shift.

“Given the current public health restrictions in place to protect Manitobans, we want to provide flexibility to businesses and customers and allow more opportunity for curbside pickup and delivery options as well as longer in-person shopping hours to minimize crowds,” said the province’s finance minister, Scott Fielding, in a statement.

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“During this critical time for retailers across the province, we believe these updated laws will help many businesses with additional revenues as we head into the holiday season.”

Traeger said one of the side effects of the legislation, however, is that workers who already need a rest are now needed to work on holidays as well.

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Read more: Winnipeg businesses noticing shift toward buying local in light of pandemic restrictions

The good news, however, is that most Manitobans can sympathize. Traeger said while some people are taking out their frustration on employees, it’s a small minority compared to the customers who are being kind.

“The vast majority of people are following the restrictions like they’re supposed to, they’re actually being kind to our members.

“One of our messages out to the public in the spring and again this fall is it’s really time to be kind — we’re all in this together… we all have to get through this the same.”

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