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How gas stations have adapted to the COVID pandemic

We basically developed a way to do virtually contact-free service to fill up our customer's tanks.
This article is one of a series that features essential services and workers. This time we look at how gas stations have had to change what they do during the COVID situation.

The owners of Algonquin Petro Canada and the Canadian Tire Gas Bar, also on Algonquin Avenue, took a few moments to explain how they have adapted.

At Algonquin Petro Canada, owner Tony Breault says they were already a full-service operation but figured they could step things up.

"We've always been full-service, but we knew we could do more as the current COVID situation developed. We knew our staff and the public deserved as much safety and peace of mind as possible.," he says.

They took what they were already doing and amped things up a notch, saying "We basically developed a way to do virtually contact-free service to fill up our customer's tanks. All they have to do is crack their window an inch and tell us what they want. We fill up the tank, we can check oil and washer fluids and clean the windows while they relax in the car. Then they can slip their credit or debit card through the window, we run in and tap it, as long as it is under $100. Then we return in with their receipt, and a wet wipe to clean the card."

Breault's been using his businesses Facebook page to spread the word.

"On social media, we call it the safest way to get gas in North Bay."

He notes that they also have service bays at their location and have changed things up there as well.

"We also have mechanics on site so we've developed similar new protocols to ensure safety while we change their tires or do tune-ups. It ensures as little interaction as possible and ensures social distancing."

Over at the Canadian Tire Gas Bar, Tony Fava explains the steps they've taken.

"We've got the plexiglass protection up. Staff are washing their hands and sanitizing virtually non-stop. Most are wearing masks as well," says Fava.

He says his team is also sanitizing and bleaching the handles and buttons on the pumps continuously throughout the day, as his operation is self-serve.

They also manage customer traffic flow, saying "We only allow four people in the store at a time." And, they've got signage inside and outside explaining new protocols.

He notices a difference in people's attitudes, though, adding "I find that most people really seem to mean it these days when they ask 'how are you' when they come in the store."