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

(Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Murder charge laid in February 2020 stabbing death of Smithers man

Michael Egenolf is charged with the second-degree murder of Brodie Cumiskey

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. seniors aged 90+ can start to sign up for vaccination on March 8

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

The Majagaleehl Gali Aks Elementary School in Hazelton is being shut down for a week by the Gitanmaax Band Council following a confirmation of a COVID-19 exposure there on Feb. 26. (Black Press Media File Photo)
COVID-19 exposure notice shuts down Hazelton school

Closure to last for one week and school is to be sanitized

Dave Livesey, right, has been elected as Telkwa councillor defeating Klaus Kraft (middle) and Erik Jacobsen. (Interior News composite photo)
Dave Livesey elected to Telkwa council

Livesey received 60 votes to Klaus Kraft’s 51 and Erik Jacobsen’s 34 in preliminary results

Smithers Local Health Area reported just one new case of COVID-19 from Feb. 14-20. (BC CDC graphic)
Local weekly COVID infections drop to one

The Smithers Local Health Area (Houston to Witset) reported a single case between Feb. 14 and20

COVID-19 vaccines were available at a site on East Pender in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside Feb. 25. (Twitter/Sarahblyth17)
Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside residents offered $5 after getting COVID-19 vaccine

It’s an effort to ‘incentivize people to engage,’ says B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix

</p>
A survey by Statistics Canada finds Black Canadians earn less than non-visible minority Canadians despite having higher levels of education. (The Canadian Press file photo)
COVID-19 worsened unemployment picture for Black Canadians

Black Canadians also more likely to suffer other hardships

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(Black Press Media files)
B.C. teacher transferred then suspended after students report feeling ‘scared, nervous’

Authorities found that teacher did not create inviting, respectful environment for students

Victoria’s Swartz Bay terminal. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries offers cheaper, prepaid fare options

Ferry service preparing for busy terminals when travel restrictions are lifted

FILE - Dolly Parton arrives at the 61st annual Grammy Awards on Feb. 10, 2019, in Los Angeles. The Grammy-winning singer, actor and humanitarian posted a video on Tuesday, March 2, 2021, of her singing just before getting her COVID-19 vaccine shot. Parton donated $1 million to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee for coronavirus research. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)
‘Vaccine, vaccine’: Dolly sings ‘Jolene’ rewrite before shot

The Grammy-winning legend turned 75 this year

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland speaks about the Fiscal update during a news conference in Ottawa, Monday November 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
COVID-19: Wage and rent subsidies, lockdown support to be extended until June

Chrystia Freeland says now is not time to lower levels of support

The area on Cordova Bay Road where ancestral human remains were discovered Feb. 22. (Submitted photo)
Human remains discovery a reminder of B.C. Indigenous culture dug up and displaced

‘These are the people who inspired and birthed the generations that we now have here’

Most Read