Ontario man petitions grocery stores to require shoppers to wear face masks

"If I saw, let's say 90 percent of people actually going through the stores wearing masks, I would feel a lot more confident, Rob Shirkey said.

A man in Guelph, Ontario has started a petition to make wearing face masks in grocery stores mandatory, according to CTV News.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Rob Shirkey says he feels nervous in grocery stores. "If I saw, let's say 90 percent of people actually going through the stores wearing masks, I would feel a lot more confident," said Shirkey.

Shirkey has since switched his grocery store of choice over to Longos, which already does require face masks of its customers.

Shirkey created a petition calling on the CEOs of the major grocery store chains such as Loblaws, Sobeys, Metro, Walmart, and Costco to do the same as Longos and mandate that mask wearing be a requirement for all workers and shoppers to enter the store.

"If you could get all or even just one of these decision makers to require masks in their stores, to protect the people in their stores, the communities in which they operate, that would have a profound impact on the health and well-being of Canadians," said Shirkey.

Canada's Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Doctor Theresa Tam has officially recommended that all Canadians start to wear non-medical face masks when out in public as of Wednesday, while continuing to maintain a two metre distance.

"It is an added layer of protection," said Dr. Tam. "Even people who do not have symptoms, to wear a mask prevents transmission to others."

Shirkey said his main objective is simply to help slow the spread of the virus. "We got a virus that comes out of our mouth and nose, " said Shirkey. "If I do this, I'm kind of reducing its transmission. It’s a bit of a no brainer."

So far, Canada's biggest grocery store chains aren't requiring mandatory face masks yet, releasing statements today, in response to Shirkey's petition.

Metro

"We advise that everyone wears a mask but at this time we have not made it mandatory in our stores. For employees wearing a face mask and/or face shield is mandatory in these situations:

"Social distancing and other prevention measures (e.g. work organization, change of location, physical barriers, etc.) have been considered but are not possible; close contact with other people, within 2 m or 6 feet, is likely."

Loblaws

"We have masks and gloves in use in every store and available to every colleague. As per Health Canada’s recent announcement, we also strongly encourage everyone to wear masks in our stores, especially if physical distancing is difficult."

Sobeys

"From the beginning of this pandemic, our first priority has been the safety of our teammates and customers. Early on in this crisis, we made personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks, gloves, and visors available to all of our employees in all of our stores and pharmacies.

"We have followed the direction of public health authorities across Canada to shape our policies in each jurisdiction. In addition, we put added measures in place to safeguard physical distancing, including plexiglass shields at our checkout lanes and service counters, one-way aisles, two-metre floor markers and limits on the number of people allowed within stores at one time.

"In some areas of the store where a two-metre physical distance cannot be maintained at all times, employees are required to face shields or masks. We will continue to implement the guidance of public health authorities as their policies evolve. We're doing everything possible to keep our stores safe across Canada and will continue to adapt our safety measures as necessary."

Costco

"Public health experts recommend the use of masks or face coverings in public settings. To protect our members and employees, it is recommended that all Costco members and guests wear a mask or face covering that covers the mouth and nose, at all times while on Costco premises. This recommendation does not apply to children under the age of 2 or to individuals who are unable to wear a mask or face covering due to a medical condition.

"The use of a mask or face covering should not be seen as a substitute for social distancing. Please continue to observe rules regarding appropriate distancing while on Costco premises. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation."

Speaking to Ontarians today, Premier Doug Ford noted that face masks would not be made mandatory by the provincial government, but that businesses could make them mandatory if they so choose.