MEC pauses gear rental program due to coronavirus concerns

TORONTO — Outdoor retailer Mountain Equipment Co-op has stopped renting out gear amid concerns over the spreading novel coronavirus.

On Saturday, MEC spokesperson Kathleen McDonald said the company’s rental program, which allows members to rent out equipment, such as snowshoes, skies, and sleeping bags, had been temporarily paused as a precautionary measure as confirmed cases of COVID-19 continue to climb in Canada.

“The health of our staff and members is a top priority and we are taking precautionary steps,” she said in an emailed statement to “We’re doing what we can to be extra safe and will continue to keep the best interests of our staff and members in mind.”

McDonald said MEC is also suspending use of its climbing and bouldering walls at this time. She said the retailer’s other measures to protect against the virus include “enhanced cleaning, limiting business travel, and promoting everyday preventative behaviours with our teams across the country.”

MEC isn’t the only company taking precautions as the number of cases of COVID-19 grows around the world.

Earlier this week, coffee chains Tim Hortons, Starbucks, and The Second Cup announced they were suspending the use of reusable cups over virus fears. Some transit agencies, too, have taken extra steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by increasing their cleaning efforts on vehicles and switching to more aggressive anti-microbial cleansers.

Other companies have limited employees’ business trips and implemented self-quarantine protocols for workers returning from overseas trips.

As of Saturday, there have been more than 105,000 cases of COVID-19 around the world, including 60 in Canada. While most people recover from the illness, there have been more than 3,500 documented deaths from the virus.

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