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Kissarvik Co-op strives to protect staff, customers

Things look the same from the outside, but once one ventures inside it doesn’t take long to realize that changes have taken place at the Kissarvik Co-op in Rankin Inlet since the COVID-19 pandemic was released upon the world.

Kissarvik Co-op assistant general manager and retail store manager Glenn Woodford gets an update on the status of an order to the store in Rankin Inlet.
Darrell Greer/NNSL photo

Kissarvik assistant general manager and retail store manager Glenn Woodford said a number of different routines have been put in place in an attempt to help keep the virus out of Rankin Inlet.

He said cleaning and sanitizing is top of the list in trying to protect store staff members from the virus, should it appear in the community.

Watching people’s movements to respect social distancing is ongoing at the store,” said Woodford, “and we’re trying to keep up with all the latest information being released to ensure that we’re doing the right thing.

We have a lot of meetings to discuss what’s ahead and what needs to be done, and we’ve installed plexiglass safety barriers for our cashiers to help keep them safe when they’re serving customers.

We’re waiting for material to arrive from the south so we can totally finish that job, and, of course, everyone is wearing rubber gloves, especially our cashiers, because we don’t want anybody handling cash with their bare hands.”

Woodford said it does raise anxiety levels in people who are taking the precautions seriously, but so does seeing others in the community still not taking COVID-19 seriously.

He said the store is asking customers not to bring in kids under 12 years of age to limit the number of people who are in the store at any given time, and that’s not gone over well with some in the community.

Some people don’t take kindly to that – if you have a baby in an amauti, fine – and try to bring their kids shopping with them anyway.

People should just come to the store themselves and limit the amount of people we have in the building because the more space you have, the more distancing you can do and the less chance there is of spreading the virus should it arrive here.

So far, as far as we know, thank God it’s not here.

God forbid but, if that virus does make it here, with our small communities and the overcrowding we have in some homes, it will be rampant in a short amount of time.”

Woodford said, should the virus ever arrive in the Kivalliq, he worries that the health-care system in the region will not be able to deal with the workload.

He said there’s still been no cases of hoarding at the store and he expects it will stay that way, at least for the immediate future.

People are just going about their business as usual.

Most of the people around, by now, understand hoarding toilet paper, for example, is a ridiculous thought for COVID-19.

Even if it does show up here, I don’t think people will go into panic mode and buy every roll of toilet paper I have in the warehouse. That won’t happen here.

The things we are running out of are hand sanitizers, Lysol wipes and things of that nature being purchased by people in the community who are doing their part to help mitigate the virus, should it be here.”

Woodford said it’s terribly difficult for people to totally insulate themselves against COVID-19 because society still has to function.

He said he’s confident the Kissarvik Co-op is doing all it can to help the current situation.

We’re also giving priority shopping to our elders because we don’t want to limit the time they can shop at our store.

Telling the elders, for example, they can come between 8-9 a.m. is kind of telling them when they have to come to shop and I don’t want to do that.

I want to respect our elders, so they can come to the store when they please and, when they’re ready to go to the till, we’ll give them priority service and get them out of the store as quickly as possible.

That’s respecting the elders while, at the same time, looking out for them because we know they’re vulnerable to the virus should it ever be here and we want to do what we can to take care of them.”