Island Health is easing rules for grocery stores to sell bottled water at dispensing machines.
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the health authority demanded grocers stop selling water through a dispensing machine, unless they could provide a full-time attendant.
“Three stores in Sooke were affected by this rule,” Mike Hicks, Juan de Fuca Electoral Area director, said.
Island Health feared water dispensers could be a transmission method for the novel coronavirus.
Previously, Island Health required a full-time attendant taking care of the unit and filling the bottles, which many grocers rejected as too expensive.
Now, grocers can operate bottle water dispensing if customers fill their own own containers, signage for physical distancing is in place, and hand sanitizers and disinfectants are available.
“Just last week, due to the competing priorities between ensuring people have access to a potable water supply and the risks associated with transmission of COVID-19, the provincial stance on water bottling in grocery stores has eased,” said
Island Health’s Craig Nowakowski in a letter to Hicks.
Hicks appealed to Island Health in April to allow the selling of water, usually sold in five-gallon reusable containers.
“I surveyed the three Sooke water suppliers – Western Foods, Village Foods and Home Hardware – and discovered they sell approximately 100 water containers daily. The water is used by residents that are on wells and residents that use a CPAP machine for sleep apnea,” he said.