By YOURI KEMP
Tribune Business Reporter
Super Value's president yesterday questioned whether consumers are aware that the government has mandated all food stores must close on Sunday and Monday to help counter COVID-19's spread.
"Does the public realise that we are closed on this upcoming Sunday, and for the Monday holiday for the lockdown?" Rupert Roberts asked, questioning the logic behind the government's move. "I didn't realise that until a couple of hours ago. Everything is locked down. The order wasn't very clear, and what it says is when we can stay open, but it doesn't say when we should close. That should be clear.
"One of my employees brought the order to me, and said to me that we are closed on Sunday and Monday. I said: 'No, that can't be', but they brought the order to me and the order says we can stay open on those days up until, but then I thought it should have been made very clear that Sunday and Monday we need to close."
Mr Roberts said this would produce a Saturday rush to the food store and make it more difficult to maintain COVID-19 health protocols. "So that's going to create a challenge for us to keep social distancing, and they know that because we have kept complaining," he added.
"They know that that's a problem, but if it becomes a problem that we can't handle then I will call in the police and ask them to give us some help. I would have to go through the Prime Minister's office to get that."
A spokesman from the Prime Minister's Office confirmed that all food stores must close on Sunday and Monday due to the government's latest emergency orders. "Yes. In the statement released yesterday it states that food stores may open on Saturday," they said. "It doesn't say anything about Sunday and Monday because it doesn't apply to those days."
Mr Roberts, meanwhile, said Super Value had seen no major rush of customers seeking to stock up ahead of the weekend arrival of "potential cyclone nine", which is forecast to be a tropical storm when it reaches Bahamian waters.
"Business has definitely picked up, but I don't know if it's the lockdown or the panic shopping from the hurricane, as there is just no way to tell. But one way or the other it would have been the same shopping and they are just combining the two," he added.
Cyril Carey, general manager of Kenneth's food store on Prince Charles Drive, said: "No. We haven't been seeing anybody coming in to prepare for the hurricane yet. I guess people have their fingers crossed. I think people are just getting their pay cheques now, so we will have to see what today holds. For yesterday morning so far, I haven't seen any change yet."
Bradley Rolle, assistant manager of Centreville Food Market, said: "I haven't been seeing a bump in sales. Sales have fallen off tremendously. Even when we have these lock down periods, people trickle in like on Friday and get their items and then that's it. Nothing major."