“It’s a drive-through,” said Dr. Paul Roumeliotis of the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU). “You drive through, pick it up, and leave.”
During his daily media teleconference April 29, Dr. Roumeliotis explained the new Section 22 orders he approved under the Health Protection Act, which makes essential business owners more responsible for ensuring their customers follow provincial pandemic plan social distancing rules.
The EOHU has received calls about people socializing in small groups in parking lots outside of grocery stores and takeout restaurants after finishing their shopping or collecting their takeout orders. That goes against the provincial pandemic protection guidelines.
“I’m putting the onus on the (business) owners,” said Dr. Roumeliotis, adding that store and restaurant owners and staff need to make sure customers do not loiter outside of their vehicles in the parking lots. They can sit in their vehicles to drink and eat their takeout order if they wish but not stand outside with others in groups, chatting and drinking their coffee.
Essential businesses like grocery stores, Big Box retailers, pharmacies, and other outfits that are allowed to let their customers inside to shop also have mandatory guidelines to follow. Store owners are required to “designate an employee to control the flow of customers” and make sure shoppers keep two metres away from each other and do not linger in store aisles.
These public-access stores must also have aisles marked with directional arrows taped on the floor to maintain “one-way only” traffic flow. Staff should explain to customers, if necessary, which way they have to go along the aisle to avoid people having to pass close by each other while shopping. There are other guidelines for maintaining social distance between customers and cashiers or staff at specialty counters, and also item-purchase limits to prevent hoarding.
Businesses providing curbside pickup of purchased items for their customers also have guidelines for maintaining social distancing, including designating employees to maintain traffic flow and discourage people from congregating in the parking lot or pickup areas.
If business owners and staff have problems with customers who won’t follow the Special Orders guidelines they can refer the situation to either police or local bylaw enforcement. Under the provincial pandemic plan, police and bylaw officers have authority to ticket people who refuse to follow pandemic protection rules.