With businesses closing across Winnipeg due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, pharmacies are among the few that remain open to provide essential services to the public — but it’s been a difficult transition for them and their customers as well.
“It’s been quite different for us. We’ve had to really ramp up our safety protocols for our staff, and at the same time, that applies for our delivery drivers, our patients… we’re just trying to limit our exposure,” said Scott Groen of Winnipeg’s Tache Pharmacy.
“The social-distancing thing has made it very difficult for us to maintain a large pharmacy,” Groen told 680 CJOB.
“We work in close quarters together… so we’ve got markings down on the floor with tape to indicate our two-metre (apart) mark. It’s been difficult, but we’re making our way through it.”
Other challenges to the pharmacy business are the way certain items — hand sanitizer, for one — are flying off the shelves and the provincially mandated regulations that limit the amount of prescription medication Manitobans can take home at a time.
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Manitoba pharmacies are limited to distributing a one-month quantity of prescription drugs to ensure the province’s supply of medication.
“We’ve had some very great, understanding people, and they realize this is a very unusual situation,” he said.
“When we explain to them it’s a desire to make sure everyone has a supply of medication and nobody runs out, most people are very well understanding with that. We have good people in this province.”
The province announced new COVID-19 restrictions Friday, some of which apply to pharmacies like Groen’s.
Starting Monday, retail businesses, including grocery or food stores, shopping centres, pharmacies and gas stations, must ensure the separation of one to two metres between patrons who gather in the business.
Groen said the best option for self-isolating Winnipeggers who might need to visit a pharmacy for drugs or other products is to call ahead, as many pharmacies have shortened their hours due to the pandemic.
He also suggested finding out if a pharmacy has delivery service so you don’t need to leave home.
“Our delivery drivers are doing an amazing job right now. Their volume has gotten close to 50-100 per cent more than what they’ve carried out before, so for them to take on that extra load, we sure appreciate the work they’re doing for us,” Groen said.
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