Checkers store closed… again

The Hout Bay Civic Association secretary, Roscoe Jacobs.

Checkers in Hout Bay has drawn flak from community activists, who claim the store which has had staff test positive for Covid-19, has flouted lockdown regulations.

The Shoprite Group, which Checkers is part of, has denied the allegations, saying it had done everything possible to protect its employees and customers.

“Since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, the Shoprite Group has proactively acted to safeguard our employees and customers and we will continue to do whatever is within our power to protect their well-being and health,” the group said in a statement to Sentinel News.

But it’s an assertion disputed by the Hout Bay Community Activist Group, led by Roscoe Jacobs and Lee Smith.

In a statement, the community activists claimed Checkers in Hout Bay was one of several businesses not complying with health and safety protocols for when an employee tests positive for Covid-19, and “in so doing are putting profit before the lives of workers and the most vulnerable people living in Hout Bay”.

The activists claimed Checkers had simply screened workers and asked them to return to work after their colleagues had tested positive for Covid-19.

“Those who have come into contact with these colleagues have only been screened and returned to work. However, lockdown regulations are clear that any such workers must self isolate for a two-week period. It is our current understanding that this has not happened, and these businesses are operating without taking due care and caution for their staff and customers,” the statement said.

Checkers Hout Bay was closed on May 2 for decontamination, after an employee tested positive for Covid-19.The Shoprite Group said it had followed the correct procedure.

“Those who had close contact with the person who tested positively were required to self-quarantine for 14 days,” the company said.

The store had been closed voluntarily the moment the positive case had come to light and reopened on May 6, following decontamination, staff screening and quarantining, and consultation with the authorities.

The company confirmed that since that incident the store had again been forced to close recently because of at least once Covid-19 case. It did not say when it might reopen.

Store employees the Sentinel spoke to earlier this month declined to comment, saying they feared losing their jobs.

The Sentinel asked the Shoprite Group how many employees had tested positive at the Hout Bay store, but the company refused to say, citing employees’ privacy and patient confidentiality.

Ward councillor Roberto Quintas said it remained “imperative that any business, retailer or public institution follow the prescribed Covid-19 protocols”, especially after staff tested positive.

“I have heard of several businesses where excellent protocols have been put in places, and regulations adhered to. In those instances, I commend the businesses for their willingness and diligence in complying with requirements,” he said.

“The safety of our workers, and public in general is paramount and businesses need to comply, and be supported in their efforts to balance lives with livelihoods.”