Checkers staff demands to be tested

Staff members at Checkers Hypermarket Sun Valley protesting outside the store.

Checkers Hyper Sun Valley reopened on Sunday May 10 after undergoing Covid-19 decontamination.

The store had closed a week earlier after an employee tested positive for the virus.

On Friday May 8, Checkers employees protested at the store, demanding to be tested for Covid-19 and not just screened.

Of 10 Checkers staff the Echo approached for comment on Tuesday, nine said they were new staff members and had no idea what the protest had been about, but the 10th confirmed that staff on Friday’s shift had protested because they wanted to be tested for Covid-19.

A trolley assistant at the mall said he was worried about working but counted himself blessed to have a job and said he spent his day praying for everybody to be safe.

Store manager Wayne Rosenberg said all comment had to go through the company’s head office.

In a statement, the Shoprite Group, which Checkers is part of, said those who had had close contact with the Covid-19 positive case were now self-quarantining for 14 days.

A screening programme had been put in place immediately, supported by the company’s mobile clinic.

Staff were continuously educated and informed about the importance of maintaining stringent hygiene and sanitation protocols, and about following the simple steps that help stop the virus, the company said.

“Various measures have been put in place for all stores, including daily temperature testing when employees arrive at work; mobile clinics have been dispatched for referrals; plastic face shields rolled out to employees; and stringent hygiene and sanitising protocols remain in place across all our operations.”

Employees would also be issued with two fabric masks in line with the updated Disaster Management Act regulations and customers were asked to use the disinfectant spray bottles at entrances and till points. Disinfectant wipes were also available at store entrances for use on hands and trolley and basket handles.

“For their own safety, and also that of our employees, customers are requested to follow the simple steps that help to stop the spread of the virus. These include washing hands regularly, not touching faces, covering coughs and sneezes and maintaining the required social distance,” the company said, adding that security staff monitored customer numbers and limited entry where necessary.

“When there is confirmation of an employee testing positive for Covid-19, a professional decontamination company will be brought in to sanitise and deep clean the store through a fogging process which takes place early evening. This entails spraying a fine mist which covers all surfaces and provides a general layer of virus and bacteria protection for a period of seven days. Only food safe chemicals are used. Once a certificate of
compliance has been issued, the store will reopen in consultation with the provincial Department of Health.”

The store was virtually empty on Tuesday. Staff wore plastic visors and cloth or surgical masks, trolleys were sprayed and wiped down before use and customers had their hands sprayed with sanitiser and kept their phyisical distance.