Provigo Coronavirus case raises health and safety questions

By Gordon Lambie

Following the news that one of the staff members at the Lennoxville Provigo was recently confirmed to have contracted COVID-19, both employees and community members reached out to The Record to express concerns about the measures in place and the communication involved. Notably, several employees expressed surprise that they heard the information from the news story and not from their employer.
“We don’t call everybody, we call the people that have to be tested, that’s all,” said store owner Robert Lafond, stressing that he is following the directives of the public health department in terms of dealing with the situation. “They’re the boss. They tell us what we have to do, and we do it.”
Lafond noted that the news had created an atmosphere of panic among staff and store visitors, but he emphasized the fact that the case that has been confirmed was not caught in the store environment. He shared that three additional employees went to get tested on Sunday, but said that more people were not advised because close, sustained contact is required for someone to be considered at risk of infection.
“It’s not a fun situation, but it’s not anybody’s fault” he added, sharing that although the news has made things more challenging in the workplace, he recognizes that no one gets sick on purpose.
Another concern expressed both from members of the community and employees was that the monitoring of traffic into and out of the store had stopped in recent weeks, contrary to the policy outlined by Joanne Héroux, Provigo’s Senior Director of Corporate Affairs and Communications in Monday’s article.
Lafond denied this, however, stating that “there’s always somebody monitoring.” The store owner said that particular attention is paid in the afternoons, when more people tend to come to shop.
Asked about the Lennoxville store’s reduced capacity limit, Lafond said that there are not supposed to be more than 30 customers in the building at any given time.
One store worker, who asked to remain anonymous, told The Record that the staff was actively discouraged from going to get tested because the wait for results would lead to missed shifts.
Lafond denied this outright.
“No, no, no,” he said. “I’m not going to stop anybody from being tested.”
The store owner confirmed that a specialized team had come out from Montreal to disinfect the building following the initial confirmation and reiterated that everything is being done to follow public health directives and ensure the safety and security of staff and employees.
“We’re not hiding anything,” he said
To date there have been 48 cases of COVID-19 among employees of grocery stores under the Provigo, Maxi and Club Entrepôt banners across the province since the start of the pandemic.

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