High demand for plexiglass as Shuswap businesses seek to protect public, staff

Stores large and small adding glass panels to cashier stations, pharmacies

Salmon Arm businesses that offer essential services to the community are stepping up efforts to keep shoppers and staff safe amid concerns around COVID-19.

As of Wednesday, March 25, local Loblaws stores including Shoppers Drug Mart and Brad’s No Frills were endeavouring to promote social distancing through such things as floor markings that indicate a two-metre distance. In addition, the stores were preparing to set up glass barriers at cashier stations.

“All Loblaws stores have got them on order for the front registers, the pharmacy and the post office,” said Salmon Arm Shoppers front store manager Sandi Holmgren. “We have to because we’re an essential service. It’s very, very important to me, and to Loblaws as a company, in order to keep our staff safe and make sure the health and well-being of our staff and customers comes first.”

Nutters Everyday Naturals in Centenoka Park Mall was taking similar steps.

Owner Russ Skinner said plexiglass was on order, markings are on the floor at two-metre distances, sanitizing stations are set up and plastic gloves are available for shoppers.

“When you’re a cashier, you’ve got to be within that six feet, you can’t eliminate that,” Skinner said. “So you put a bit of a barrier up and the few dollars it’s going to cost could save somebody’s life. It’s that critical. That’s how I look at it.”

Uptown Askew’s store manager Heather Turner said plexiglass was being installed there too as one of several measures to help prevent the spread of the virus.

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“We’ve got the pharmacy counter done and one checkout, and they’re in the process of cutting the rest of the plexiglass to install it…,” Turner said. “Hopefully, we’ll get most of them done in the next day or two. It’s just a matter of reducing the infection as much as possible.”

The demand for plexiglass by grocers and other businesses has kept Salmon Arm glass and window providers hopping.

Rainbow Glass owner Phil Stewart said he was working with several stores wanting the safety addition.

“Most of the major stores want it in town like banks, grocery stores, credit unions – where there’s a lot of traffic where people have to come up to a teller or something, they want some kind of a guard in between,” Stewart said. “Then, of course, some of the smaller businesses have done things too. We have two in our place and across the street we’re doing one and down the road we’re doing one. There’s big demand.”

An upside to the demand, said Stewart, was being able to keep his staff working.

“We’ve shortened our hours a little bit but we can still work because people are calling every day for it,” he said. “We haven’t seen the end of this yet.”

Crystal Glass and Trademark Glass were also seeing high demand for plexiglass.

“We’re going to try to accommodate one person at a time and try to help them out,” said Trademark owner Cathy Sulphur.

Because of the sudden and high demand for plexiglass across the province, Stewart said the product was becoming difficult to source. But Turner at Askew’s had a proposition that could help.

“I’m offering to trade toilet paper for plexiglass if anybody is asking,” laughed Turner. “If there’s any takers…”

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