Last updated March 28, 2020 at 12:00 pm 

Our business today is a mix of open and closed. Our food manufacturing facility and two retail outlets (in British Columbia – under review) remain open, operating with significant modifications and restrictions. All other retail outlets have been closed.

How We Decide

At this time of pandemic, we are abiding strictly by the prescriptions and recommendations of competent authorities where we operate. They are the ones who are making the difficult public policy decisions about how best to manage (mitigate or suppress) the pandemic in our particular part of the world, given our particular set of facts.  In Alberta, this principally means the provincial government at this time.

There are other factors unique to our particular business that also influence what we do:

  • What workplace health and safety requires at each of our business locations.
  • What our team members want and choose to do, day by day.
  • What other stakeholders are saying and doing that affects us (for example, customers and multi-tenant landlords).

Whether we are open or not at any particular time, and how we operate if we’re open, will therefore reflect, first, our strict compliance with the prescriptions and recommendations of competent authorities, and then second (and overlapping with that first requirement for compliance), our best judgment about workplace health and safety, about what our team members want and choose to do, and about what other stakeholders are saying and doing.

In Alberta, in light of the updated Public Health Order announced March 27, 2020, we have carefully analyzed the new rules as they apply to our business.  A copy of our analysis can be viewed here.

Food Safety

Cococo operates a highly-regulated food manufacturing and food distribution business. In addition to us being in the business of making chocolate memories and experiences, therefore, it has always been true for us that, first and foremost, we must be in the business of being careful and clean and traceable. Our food safety protocols are well established for that reason, and they are a solid base from which we can respond today.

COVID-19 Basics

All of the COVID-19 Basics—words and phrases that have very quickly become part of our shared pandemic language—are in place at our locations.  Our employees:

DO
practice physical distancing
wash hands often
cover coughs and sneezes
avoid touching their faces

DON'T 
come to work if sick

See our series of worksite instructional posters here.

For all of our team members we respect: 

  1. The option to work from home if the job is one that can be done remotely.
  2. The option to adjust work hours.
  3. Parental leaves.
  4. Sick leaves.
  5. All other leaves of absence recognized by the Employment Standards Code.

Retail Stores including curb-side pickup and online fulfilment

  1. Closed: all corporately-owned retail stores in Calgary, except those offering curb-side pickup, which until further notice are:
    • Victoria Park - 1313 – 1st Street SE
    • 17th Avenue SW
    • Signal Hill

See our analysis here.

  1. Open: our online fulfillment centre and the retail locations noted above.
  2. Operational adjustments at open work sites include:
    • Significantly reduced hours, including to avoid staff overlap.
    • Touchless pickup and delivery.
    • Steps are being taken to avoid food waste as we relocate our inventories of perishable products from place to place.
    • No product sampling is available.
    • A cleaning protocol requires cleaning of hard-surface high-touch surfaces, three times per day.
    • Very frequent handwashing by staff is required.
    • Fresh gloves must be used by employees before and after picking and  filling online orders.

In our Calgary chocolate factory and administrative office:

  1. All factory tours have been suspended until further notice.
  2. Very frequent handwashing for team members is required (in addition to our usual protocols of hair nets, beard nets, clean work coats, and automated shoe scrubbers / sanitizers).
  3. Mandatory glove use for all factory team members.
  4. An extra cleaning protocol requires cleaning of hard-surface high-touch surfaces, three times per day, in addition to our standard daily sanitization protocols.
  5. Factory shifts have been split to reduce congregation.
  6. Social distancing is mandated, both within the factory and in staff common areas.

Doing Our Best

Like so many others, we are working hard to stay informed, and based upon what we know, we will do our best to update our communications. Our first priority will always be to make and implement required operational decisions. People first.

Whatever else we do, though, we will continue to do our best to support our customers, our staff, and our local communities in a calm and steady manner. Our business was destroyed in the Calgary floods of 2013. This is a different crisis than that one was, but living through any crisis teaches the value of good citizenship and teamwork.

I worry that a lot of businesses that are closing right now will never reopen, and I worry about what that means for lives being held together and continuing forward from this point. Closing is one thing; opening back up is quite another.  As our Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s impressive Chief Medical Officer said in her update on March 18, 2020: “We have had to weigh lives against livelihoods.”

And so, especially in those circumstances, I’m grateful that people in authority in our great country—experts and dedicated public servants—are today the ones who are working hard to “weigh lives against livelihoods” for the benefit of us all, including because:  how could I possibly know the right answers (the best predictions) myself, except by listening to them? I find it comforting today to focus simply upon doing really well what we have been asked to do, and not to speculate about nor implement things we haven’t yet been asked to do. It’s a good time to play follow the leader. We’re doing our best.

And lastly don’t forget: social distancing doesn’t mean emotional distancing. Please take care of yourself, be kind to each other, and look in on your neighbours from time to time.

Clean Hands, Open Mind, and Loving Heart
(and Chocolate Together, just a little further apart).

Brian Beck, President
Cococo Chocolatiers