Supporting Frontline Workers during the COVID-19 Pandemic

While the COVID-19 pandemic has cut short and up-ended many aspects of daily life, it has also made clear the many people in our community we rely on to maintain our habits and livelihood. Whether it's working in healthcare, local grocery stores, or various delivery services, many essential workers are putting themselves in harm's way so the rest of us can stay home in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

This makes it more important than ever for all of us to show support for frontline workers by practicing safe habits and staying positive in a time of crisis. Here are some simple tips to consider and follow when interacting with frontline workers.

1. Keep your distance, wear a mask, sanitize, and get immunized against COVID-19

The Government of Canada and many provincial governments have recommended maintaining at least a 2-metre (6 feet) physical distance from other people as much as possible. In addition, it is recommended that you wear a two-layer, non-medical mask whenever possible, as the virus can spread through the air (airborne transmission). This recommendation is especially important when receiving essential services, shopping locally, or in places where it’s otherwise difficult to maintain physical distance. Limit your time spent in closed spaces, close-contact situations, and crowded places, as the risk of airborne transmission is higher in these settings.

Regularly washing your hands is also a key preventative step you can take to prevent the spread of infection. In places where you don’t have access to soap and water, sanitizing your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer also works to prevent the spread of droplets to objects or people.

Getting the COVID-19 vaccine is one of the best ways to lower your risk of severe illness and other complications from the virus. As public facilities start to re-open, some locations such as restaurants and gymnasiums may require proof of vaccination to enter. If you have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, you should continue to follow your local health guidelines to protect yourself and frontline workers.

2. Ask for contactless delivery

Many delivery services, particularly for restaurants and other eateries, are offering contactless delivery to protect delivery people as they fulfill more orders than usual. When receiving a contactless delivery, make sure to provide detailed instructions on where to drop off items, or mention in the delivery notes that you will meet them from behind a screen door or window.

In many cases it is also preferable to pre-pay for any orders online with your credit or debit card. This can prevent the need for handling a POS machine at drop-off, or exchanging any physical currency, which should be avoided until the pandemic is declared safe. During times when you must use a POS machine, using the tap option is a good alternative to entering a PIN code.

3. Be efficient

During trips to the grocery stores, pharmacies, or other retail locations, try to be as efficient as possible in choosing and paying for items. Prepare a shopping list before you leave so you don't spend extra time looking for items you may have forgotten. Only touch items on the shelves that you intend to keep in your cart and take with you after. Not only will shelf stockers and cashiers appreciate this, but others waiting in line outside the store won't have to wait as long themselves.

4. Show appreciation

Frontline workers are having to deal with a wide variety of circumstances and behaviors from those they assist, and being gracious with something as simple as a thank-you, or doing a little bit more to make their day easier, is a great way to show your appreciation.

Another way to show appreciation is in cases where tipping is available. If it's within your means, consider tipping more than you usually would. Many who have suddenly found themselves without work have had to turn to working with food delivery apps to make ends meet, and any additional increase in pay can go a long way.

5. Keep it positive

Don't sweat the small stuff. We are all experiencing different levels of stress and frustration at the current situation, and people deal with or manage this stress in different ways. Many businesses are doing their best to create new processes and workarounds to maintain a stable supply of goods and ensuring everyone's safety, but these adaptations may not always be perfect. A little bit of patience will go a long way to makes things less stressful for everyone.

By keeping all interactions with frontline workers positive, and not worrying or making an issue out of any small errors or inconveniences, you can contribute to creating positive morale and improving relationships within your community.

At the end of the day, it's important to remember we are all in this together. We are all doing our part, in big and small ways, to make sure everyone can stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Practicing these habits in your everyday living, both now and in a post-pandemic future, can help reduce the stress frontline workers face while they are on the job.

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