People get their temperatures tested at the T&T grocery store to help curb to spread of COVID-19 in Markham, Ont., on Monday, April 20, 2020. Temperature checks and masks are part of a handful of increased protective measures companies like Air Canada, T&T Supermarket and Longo’s are launching as provinces across Canada slowly start to reopen in the middle of the pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

People get their temperatures tested at the T&T grocery store to help curb to spread of COVID-19 in Markham, Ont., on Monday, April 20, 2020. Temperature checks and masks are part of a handful of increased protective measures companies like Air Canada, T&T Supermarket and Longo’s are launching as provinces across Canada slowly start to reopen in the middle of the pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Companies beef up COVID-19 measures with masks and temperature checks

Policies are part of a handful of increased protective measures companies are launching as provinces start to reopen

When travellers board Air Canada flights, they will have more than their tickets checked.

The Montreal-based airline will soon require all guests to have their temperature read, helping Air Canada detect potential travellers with COVID-19 symptoms.

Similar checks have been implemented on a voluntary basis for two weeks at T&T Supermarket locations and starting Monday, shoppers at Longo Brothers Fruit Markets Inc. are required to wear face masks to enter stores.

The policies are part of a handful of increased protective measures companies are launching as provinces across Canada slowly start to reopen.

The measures are expected to change how we shop, work, travel and play.

“We have to get used to the fact that we will have to maintain physical distancing, but it’s not always going to be possible and so adding the mask gives a little extra layer precaution,” said Vivek Goel, a professor at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health.

“We need to restore public confidence so that when (people are) going out to the store or getting on an airplane, they’re going to be as safe as possible.”

Some businesses have moved toward taking temperatures because it reinforces and reminds people that if they have a temperature, a cough or a runny nose they should stay home.

The checks aren’t fail proof because some who contract the virus are asymptomatic at first or never develop any signs of COVID-19, said Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief medical officer of health.

“The more you actually understand this virus the more you begin to know that temperature-taking is not effective at all,” she said Monday.

Masks have similarly been a source of controversy for public health officials who deemed them unnecessary when the pandemic began.

Michael Bryant, the executive director and general counsel for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, said some measures can be concerning because “you’re giving store employees and airline employees a new power that they are exerting over other people to either deny them entry or even just simply to take their temperature.”

Bylaw officers given similar powers have so far been “overzealous” in their reprimands, which could happen at businesses, he warned.

There are also lot of unknowns about what is being done with the data these companies collect and how it will be used in the future, Bryant said.

While people in urban centres can “vote with their feet,” by not visiting supermarkets or flying with airlines with specific measures in place, not everyone is so fortunate.

“In regions where there isn’t consumer choice, this is a very big decision… because it threatens people’s food security if they have no other place to go to get food,” he said.

Despite the concerns, Goel said mask requirements and temperature checks are bound to become common sightings as companies reopen.

Already grocery stores have gone a few steps further with plexiglass shields for cashiers, special shopping hours for seniors and staggered lines keeping people at least about two metres apart.

They have also asked shoppers to stop bringing reusable bags to stores and have removed self-serve and sampe foods.

The mask requirement is newer.

Gabriel Comanean, a Markham, Ont.-based renovations worker, first noticed grocery stores introducing the requirement for shoppers on a trip to Field Fresh Foods in Scarborough with his wife at the end of March.

“We went there shopping and then they asked us to leave,” he said. “We didn’t have masks on.”

A worker at the grocery store later verified the policy in a call with The Canadian Press.

Comanean was initially taken aback by the request, but the couple later returned with masks and now wears them whenever they go shopping.

“It’s safer to have a mask on, not only for yourself but for other people and protecting them,” Comanean said.

READ MORE: B.C. records three new COVID-19 deaths in longterm care over past 48 hours

Over at Air Canada, masks are just the start of precautions.

Canadians are being encouraged to stay home and avoid flying, but the airline has developed a plan for when restrictions are loosened, including infrared temperature checks, requiring face coverings, revising food policies to minimize crew and passenger contact and beginning eclectrostatic cabin spraying to disinfect planes.

“To promote physical distancing and provide more personal space onboard our aircraft, we will block the sale of adjacent seats in economy class…until at least June 30,” added senior executive Lucie Guillemette, on the company’s Monday earnings call.

As more businesses start to open Goel expects them to be confronted by issues they have never encountered before, such as how many people to allow on an elevator at once or whether people should only be allowed to ride if they are wearing a mask.

In classrooms and at movie theatres, cleanings will need to be increased and some patrons may want to bring along their own wipes to give their seat an extra scrub.

Companies, he said, are going to have to warn customers and employees about changes in advance and make it simple to follow the guidelines.

“They’re going to have to make it as easy as possible,” he said. “There’s going to have to be a pretty significant change in public attitude.”

However, Goel said public needs to be reminded that while more measures can stop the spread of the disease, they won’t catch and prevent every COVID-19 case.

“We have to be prepared to accept that there will be some cases of COVID-19 as we start to reopen things,” he said.

“We’re going to have to weigh that against the benefits of staying locked up forever.”

— with files from Christopher Reynolds in Montreal and Mia Rabson in Ottawa.

Tara Deschamps, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Fraser Health issued an overdose alert on Jan. 21, 2021 after an increase in overdoses over the past week in Chilliwack associated with a “greeny-blue/turquoise down substance.” (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Fraser Health issues drug overdose alert in Chilliwack

Alert comes after increase in overdoses associated with ‘greeny-blue/turquoise down substance’

ds
Mission potbellied-pig sanctuary mourns death of beloved old hog named Roscoe

14-year-old, 800-pound pig was ‘quite a character,’ said owner Janice Gillett

A screenshot from a local Instagram account video. The account appeared to be frequented by Mission students, and showed violent videos of students assaulting and bullying other students.
Parents, former students describe ‘culture of bullying’ in Mission schools

Nearly two dozen voices come forward speaking of abuse haunting the hallways

Vancouver/Fraser Valley CoSA holds a webinar on Jan. 26 titled Staying Safe Online.
‘Staying Safe Online’ is subject of Fraser Valley webinar

Session on Tuesday, Jan. 26 is hosted by non-profit Circles of Support and Accountability

A door is boarded up following a fire at Pho Xuan restaurant on Yale Road on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
UPDATE: Early morning fire at vacant Chilliwack restaurant was deliberately set

Fire erupted north of the Yale Road overpass at Pho Xuan, which was permanently closed

Toronto Public Health nurse Lalaine Agarin sets up for mass vaccination clinic in Toronto, Jan. 17, 2021. B.C. is set to to begin its large-scale immunization program for the general public starting in April. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
B.C.’s COVID-19 mass vaccinations expected to start in April

Clinics to immunize four million people by September

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a daily briefing in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
31 cases of COVID-19 variants detected in Canada: Health officials

Dr. Theresa Tam made announces 13 more variant COVID-19 cases in Canada

Daily COVID-19 cases reported to each B.C. health region, to Jan. 20, 2021. Island Health in blue, Northern Health green, Interior Health orange, Vancouver Coastal in red and Fraser Health in purple. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays stable with 508 cases Friday

Vaccine delivered to more than 110,000 high-risk people

The District of Saanich’s communications team decided to take part in a viral trend on Thursday and photoshopped U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders into a staff meeting photo. (District of Saanich/Twitter)
Bernie Sanders makes guest appearance municipal staff meeting in B.C.

Vancouver Island firefighters jump on viral trend of photoshopped U.S. senator

School District 57 headquarters in Prince George. (Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter)
Prince George school district settles with sexual abuse victim

Terms were part of an out-of-court settlement reached with Michael Bruneau, nearly four years after he filed a lawsuit

Surrey provincial court. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
New COVID-19 protocols set for provincial courthouses

The new rules were issued on Jan. 21, and took effect immediately

Police in Vancouver looking for male suspect who allegedly spat and attacked a store manager for not wearing a mask, at 7-Eleven near Alma Street and West 10th Avenue just before noon on Dec. 17, 2020. (Vancouver police handout)
VIDEO: Man spits on 7-Eleven manager over mask rule, sparking Vancouver police probe

‘Unfortunately, the store manager sustained a cut to his head during the assault’

The Vancouver-based SAR team successfully rescued two lost snowshoers off of the west side of Tim Jones Peak in the early morning of Monday, Jan. 19. (North Shore Rescue photo)
B.C.’s busiest SAR team raises alarm after 2021 begins with fatality, multiple rescues

‘People beyond ski resort areas of Seymour, Grouse, and Cypress go without cell reception,’ SAR warns

Post-COVID-19 recovery clinic in Surrey, at Jim Pattison Outpatient Care and Surgery Centre. (Photo: Fraser Health)
Surrey to host 1 of 3 post-COVID recovery clinics in Lower Mainland

The Jim Pattison Outpatient Care and Surgery Centre is located at 9750 140th Street

Most Read