Tuesday 29 November 2022

Dealing with coronavirus is a shared responsibility, supermarkets say

Notice outside Albert Heijn on Leidseplein, Amsterdam. Credit: DutchNews.nl

Dutch supermarket association CBL has no plans to ask its members to scale up hygiene and social distancing measures in stores in Amsterdam, despite the local safety board calling for standards to be tightened up.

On Friday, Amsterdam published a list of extra measures which would apply in the Dutch capital, where most new infections are taking place, and which also covered shops.

‘By this we mean that people should disinfect their hands on entering and keep 1.5 metres distance,’ the city statement said. ‘This will be stimulated by the use of arrows and other markings. And shopping baskets will again be counted and disinfected.’

While small shops are largely keeping to the rules, questions have been asked about the situation in some supermarkets. Last month pensioners’ association Anbo said it had been contacted by worried clients, while groups for the disabled said the needs of people in vulnerable health were increasingly being ignored.

However, a spokeswoman for the CBL told DutchNews.nl the measures brought in at the start of the pandemic – such as strict controls on numbers and disinfecting trolleys after every use – were a service to customers to help them adjust to the 1.5 metre society.

Shoppers, she said, should come alone and bring a shopping list. They should also keep their distance from other customers once inside. In addition, stores all have disinfectant available for people to clean their hands or trolleys, she said.

‘It is a shared responsibility’ the spokeswoman said. ‘This is something we have to deal with together.’ Amsterdam officials had not discussed their call for stricter standards with the CBL before Friday’s announcement, she said.

Complacent

The CBL did write to local authorities in mid August warning that people were becoming complacent, and calling for a more consistent approach to dealing with the spread of the virus. The association is also looking at introducing more targeted communication about the measures in place, the spokeswoman said.

DutchNews.nl has contacted Amsterdam officials and the local safety board twice for comment, but they have not responded.

The biggest Dutch supermarket group, Albert Heijn, told DutchNews.nl that it follows the guidelines of the CBL.

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