Police forced to step in as hundreds of shoppers show up for grocery store reopening

The Asian Food Centre located in the Savanna Bazaar Shopping Mall had to close its doors minutes after its grand opening on Friday, Aug. 21, 2020. A large crowd of people forced the new grocery store to close due to physical distancing concerns.

City police helped shut down a new northeast grocery store Friday after hundreds of eager shoppers swamped its grand opening event and failed to physically distance.

At around 11 a.m., officers were called to the Asian Food Centre at the Savanna Bazaar at 88th Avenue and 60th Street N.E. In its advertising, it had offered complimentary items for shoppers.

Video of the event shows hundreds of shoppers pressed together outside, struggling to get through the doors of the store. Most were wearing face masks but clearly weren’t distanced safely under COVID-19 protocols.

“A lot of people wanted to shop and the store wasn’t able to logistically handle the 300 or 400 people who showed up,” said acting Sgt. Tony Allen, adding that a member of the public alerted police to the situation.

“We maintained the peace and (the) business decided to postpone the grand opening,” said Allen. “The store made a good decision.”

He noted the crowd quickly dispersed and no charges are being laid.

As chaos ensued at the grand opening, the province recorded an additional 144 cases of the novel coronavirus on Friday, bringing the provincial total of active cases to 1,144.

This is the highest number of new cases in over a month after 168 new cases were identified on July 17.

The Calgary zone totals 294 active cases while the Edmonton zone tallies more than double at 676.

Two additional deaths brought the provincial death toll to 230. A woman in her 80s in the Calgary zone and a man in his 70s from the North Zone are the latest deaths. Neither is connected to continuing care homes.

Meanwhile, the Edmonton area remains a hotspot because of a recent rise in infections.

The City of Edmonton continues to be on the province’s watch list. The city has an active case rate of 59.5 per 100,000 people and 608 cases.

A number of companies have reported employees testing positive.

Imperial Oil, in a news release Thursday, announced four active cases and three recoveries at the refinery in Strathcona County.

The company has asked some members of its workforce to self-isolate as a precautionary measure while testing is underway. The company plans to develop a way to offer voluntary on-site testing to workers.

The refinery is less than 10 kilometres east of Edmonton.

Sobeys announced in a news release that an employee at the Safeway at 8720 – 156 Street in Edmonton tested positive on Wednesday. The staff member last worked on Aug. 13.

As well, Federated Co-operatives Limited announced in a release that an employee from the Grocery People Warehouse Market tested positive on Wednesday. The employee last worked on Aug. 14 and was asymptomatic.

Ron Healey, vice-president of agriculture and consumer business at Federated Co-operatives Limited, said in the release the employee is self-isolating and the market has been clean and sanitized since learning about the positive test.

“We’ve been working closely with Alberta Health Services to ensure we’re following or exceeding their requirements for cleaning and sanitization,” Healey said. “We’re confident that the health and safety measures that we’ve put in place at all our facilities will help prevent any further exposure.”

Also, Real Canadian Superstore reported two employees tested positive in the Edmonton area. On Aug. 18, an employee working at the 101 St. Albert Trail location tested positive. The employee last worked on Aug. 10. The following day another positive test came back for an employee at the 4410 – 17 Street location in Edmonton. The employee last worked on Aug. 14.

Meanwhile, 43 people are in hospital, nine of which are in intensive care. The province completed more than 9,800 tests on Thursday, bringing the total to more than 865,000.

In Canada, there have been 124,138 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 9,060 deaths, according to the Canadian Press. Globally, there have been 21.2 million confirmed cases and 761,000 deaths, according to the World Health Organization’s weekly report.

—With files from Jeff Labine, Alanna Smith 

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