Risk Management: Typical Lapses in Store Procedure on Social/Physical Distancing amid threat of COVID-19

By Rufran C Frago posted 03-29-2020 12:17 AM


I was in a Real Canadian Superstore @Macleod Trail recently and immediately experienced a big gap in the store social/physical distancing procedure when I reached the cashier lane where customers line up their goods on the conveyor belt to be scanned. This was my first day of grocery errand after a long while and I was buying plenty of groceries. Bagging them takes a bit more time than usual.

The Cashier seems to be in hurry scanning items but does not have the common sense needed in today’s situation. She was scanning and cramming my groceries down the conveying line before I could bag them. After I've made my payment, she immediately started scanning the groceries of the next customer, pressing the conveyor button and pushing my items such that they almost fell from the end. She wanted to place the other customer's items right away on the conveyor although there’s not enough space. 

She quickly punched the debit machine. Prompted by the cashier, the next customer moved right by me to bag his items. We were uncomfortably too close to one another, a touching distance by a few inches.

I’ve asked the fellow to please move away and wait, asking him to observe the six feet of social distance. 

He grinned & sarcastically told me, “Hahaha! Not six feet man but six inches!” He then passed behind me laughing as he headed out the store. 

I requested the cashier to slow down and control the pace of scanning so I have enough time to bag the rest of my stuff.

She grinned knowingly but did not do anything different.

She went on processing the next customer faster than before. She finished scanning in no time. Once more another person was beside me, even accidentally brushing his elbow against my arm. That was unacceptable!

It is an integral part of the store management social obligation to educate their cashiers. This is a serious matter and might even be life-threatening.

Here are some suggestions for store owners.

1. Don’t start scanning the next person in line if the previous one has not yet started bagging his last batch of groceries. The cashier has to be a good observer and help create the prescribe social distance between customers. 

2. The cashier should not cram the groceries down the conveyor belt. It makes it difficult for the customer to bag. 

3. The cashier must be receptive to the customer’s request to understand why such a request was made.

4. The next customer should keep safe distance while the first person is still being processed at the checkout counter. Don’t come near. Don’t stay near the person who was there first.

I will not mention the Cashier name but I observed that her behaviour is typical. This is most likely true to majority of other stores. We have a terrible situation to address and everyone must understand the prescribed protocol anywhere.

This new Corona Virus has created more than just worries, fear, sickness and deaths. It has created a social discomfort that ruptures cultural norms and our way of life, a troublesome shadow that might stay for a relatively long time than what we’ve known in our lifetime. Each one must be responsible enough to do his/her share to combat this invisible intruder!

About the Author:

Rufran C. Frago is the Founder of PM Solution Pro, a Calgary consultingproduct, and training services firm focusing on project and business management solutions. He is passionate providing advice, mentorship, education and training through consultation, collaboration, and what he uniquely calls, student-led training.


  1. Risk-based Management in the World of Threats and Opportunities: A Project Controls Perspective.ISBN 978-0-9947608-0-7.Canada
  2. Plan to Schedule, Schedule to Plan.ISBN 978-0-9947608-2-1.Canada
  3. How to Create a Good Quality P50 Risk-based Baseline Schedule.ISBN 978-0-9947608-1-4.Canada
  4. Schedule Quantitative Risk Analysis (Traditional Method).ISBN 978-0-9947608-3-8.Canada
  5. RISK, What are you? The Risk Management Poem: Children's Book for all Professionals.ISBN 978-0-9947608-4-5 (Canada)