COVID-19: PROTECT EMPLOYEES AND CUSTOMERS, PAUSE EMPTY RETURNS AT THE BEER STORE

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The Beer Store's website states that, "social responsibility is a cornerstone of [their] business." Despite this, they are to commence empty returns on April 6, 2020 amid a worldwide pandemic. According to the World Health Organization, COVID-19 "may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days." Empty returns require employees to handle used alcohol containers, such as bottles and cans, where as mentioned above, COVID-19 may be present on. The Beer Store had paused this recycling program, in an effort to protect customers and employees from March 19, 2020 to March 31, 2020. Still, they are now choosing to put the lives, health, and well-being of their employees, customers, employees and customers loved ones, and the public at risk.

To make matters worse, the Beer Store's announcement of the return of their recycling operations state, that they will be reducing the number of stores partaking. This is in a lackluster "effort" to ensure their employees are allotted a substantial amount of personal protective equipment (PPE). Why then, are gloves the only PPE I have ever seen a Beer Store Employee wear? Gloves are ineffective if not disposed of once touching potentially contaminated surfaces, meanwhile many employees will wear the same pair for hours. Also, employees working in the empty returns area wear cut resistant gloves, to protect themselves from broken glass. Should these gloves not be disposed of per use, they are ineffective in protection against COVID-19. 

Their announcement states that the operation in a reduced number of stores will help safeguard the maintenance of "social distancing with increased store traffic." They are admitting that the resumption of this program will result in increased store traffic, as opposed to being a responsible business and promoting social distancing and staying home unless you are need of essentials, they are encouraging the public to leave their homes to participate in empty returns. Empty returns are NOT an essential service.

Many that take part in returning empties are bottle pickers, some bottle pickers rummage through trash bins not belonging to them in order to find empty alcohol containers. These are unsanitary practices and are exposing other customers and employees to unnecessary risk. Empties are placed into carts, bins, and rollers which will be potentially contaminated. How are these items going to be properly and effectively sanitized after every use? Especially when many bring in garbage bags full of empty containers at a time. With an increase of store traffic, and a minimum of 5 customers in the store at all times, how then will the Beer Store ensure that the typically lengthy empty return line customers maintain 2 metres apart?

The Occupational Health and Safety Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. O.1, protects workers' health and safety, specifically section 25(2)(h), an employer shall "take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker." The Beer Store is not making precautionary coronavirus efforts to protect their customers, employees or the public by putting us all at risk by resuming their unessential empty returns program.

Please help protect the Beer Store employees, customers and the public by signing this petition to pause the Beer Store's empty return program until the province of Ontario is no longer under a Declaration of Emergency. Thank you.

Should you wish to voice your opinion to the Beer Store directly, their contact emails are listed below:

customerservice@thebeerstore.ca

OR 

ombudsman@thebeerstore.ca