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Provincial cannabis distributors across the country are making a slew of changes to protect consumers and employees and help deal with a spike in demand amid COVID-19. Consumers line up at a Quebec cannabis store in Montreal on March 18, 2020.The Canadian Press

Canadian cannabis shoppers will have to get used to a patchwork of closed stores and delivery disruptions as pot distributors across the country implement changes.

The moves have been sparked by an outbreak of the novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, which has pushed increasing numbers of Canadians to self-isolate and caused surges in demand for cannabis

Cannabis retailers in several provinces have advised customers that Canada Post will no longer be delivering parcels that require a signature or proof-of-age to customer doors because of disruptions to air travel and operations at their local facilities.

Shoppers must now look for a notice card notifying them of a nearby post office, where they can show identification and collect their orders.

“They are suspending their on-time delivery guarantees for all parcel services, until further notice,” Alberta Cannabis also warned. “This means that some residents and businesses may begin to experience slower than normal delivery times.”

Purolator is also waiving signature requirements, but requiring couriers to verify identification and, once proof of age is confirmed, sign for packages themselves, Alberta Cannabis said.

Meanwhile, the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) said it would be taking measures one step further by suspending same-day deliveries.

“We’re currently experiencing a higher-than-normal volume of orders and our team is working as quickly as possible to fulfill them,” a notice on the retailer’s site said.

The OCS has said it received almost 3,000 orders last Saturday, an 80-per-cent increase over an average Saturday.

On the East Coast, PEI cannabis stores shut down for the foreseeable future owing to COVID-19.

Quebec pot distributor Société québécoise du cannabis, which has also experienced a sales surge, said it was keeping doors open, but was no longer allowing cash payments, and was instead pushing credit and debit card use.

Stores were being cleaned more frequently, with a particular emphasis on doors, payment terminals and counters.

Hand sanitizer was available for all employees, who have been trained to reduce their handling of products and wash their hands often.

For those who have fears about the province’s cannabis supply, Quebec had some promising news.

“For the time being, we do not foresee any issues with product supply in-store or online,” it said.

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