By FARRAH JOHNSON
GROCERY store managers support new shopping restrictions outlined by Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis, but they fear the public will not adhere to the new rules unless they are strictly enforced.
Super Value employees said shoppers were still frequenting grocery stores yesterday, a day after Dr Minnis said families should designate one shopper per household to reduce crowding in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Sunday, Dr Minnis also revealed the government plans to introduce a food shopping schedule where shopping days and times will be designated based on the first letter of a person’s surname. He said details on these measures would be released soon.
However, the manager of Super Value at Nassau Street, who asked to be identified as S Cambridge, told The Tribune he did not believe shoppers were following Dr Minnis’ orders, because he still saw people coming in frequently to shop yesterday.
“They’ll just have to enforce the law, that’s the only thing they can do,” he said. “Because right now it’s not in place as yet so people are still doing their normal (shopping) routine and trying to come to the stores five, six, seven times a day.”
Mr Cambridge said he doubts the current trend will change until the law is “actually enforced,” because some Bahamians refuse to listen.
“When I spoke to the (Bahamian COVID-19) hotline they said more stuff was scheduled to be put in place and when they go to the House of Assembly today, they would finalise everything. But now, because it’s not finalised as yet, Bahamians will do what they want to do etc.
“So maybe when it is put in place things might change slightly, because some folks will follow the rules out of a fear of being arrested.”
Still, Mr Cambridge insisted “other folks” will continue to violate the rules because they have no regard for the law or authorities.
“Even now, me driving home in the nighttime, I see multiple cars on the road and the only people who are supposed to be on the road are foodstore workers and essential workers. So I do have my doubts, but I’m hoping the shopping schedule will help since people will have to bring their IDs.”
Mr Cambridge said the main problem is the fact a number of shoppers are buying things in small amounts, prompting frequent trips when they run out.
“We’ll have people come in the shop for one or two petty items, when they could just buy in bulk and stay home,” he said.
“You also have people who get sent to the shop multiple times a day. For example, I had a gentleman who was already in here four times already for the day and I know he gets sent out by the elderly and different families from around the neighbourhood.”
Vivian Knowles, the foodstore’s dairy manager, also agreed shoppers aren’t following Dr Minnis’ orders, because he has noticed the same people are coming to the shop over and over again.
“Like how yesterday was Sunday, the same set of people back in the foodstore the next day so it’s just repeat shoppers who keep coming back,” he said. “They’re just shopping for that one day and the next day they have to come back.”
Mr Knowles said because of the amount of people frequenting the shop everyday, he protects himself by wearing a mask and being “extra careful”.
He added while the shopping schedule may help the situation, it may not be 100 percent effective because some people may not “check for it”.
“We have some stubborn people,” he said. “Even though the government might implement it, some people ain’t going to follow through with it because they have developed a bad habit of coming in everyday and picking up what they need for that one day instead of just shopping for that whole week or that month.”
Mr Knowles said despite Dr Minnis’ orders for people to stay at home, he has seen family units come into the store to do their shopping together.
“People come with their whole families sometimes. I guess they’re using it as an outing to get out of the house. Instead of just sending one person to the shop to do their shopping, everyone coming out because that’s a way to get out the house. They ain’t taking this thing serious and until we have a serious outbreak, they won’t.”
However, The Tribune spoke to shoppers who said they were complying with the order because they understood the significance of it.
Gabby Hannah, one customer waiting outside in a line, said she was the designated shopper in her family.
“I’m shopping for me and my three kids,” she said. “I don’t see nothing wrong with the new rules (since it’s for a limited time). . .I don’t feel like it’s too much and in a way it’s a good thing.”
Other shoppers inside the foodstore also said they had no problem complying with the rules.
Terry Alday, said he agreed with the precautionary measures enforced by the government “100-percent”.
“I mean the coronavirus (pandemic) is upon us now and the one designated shopper thing is a great idea to safeguard and keep us safe. I don’t see anything wrong with it. I mean why not have one person come out all the time and do all the shopping? I’ve been the designated shopper in my family straight through.”
Another shopper, Dr Murthy Gali, added he believed the new shopping rules were “excellent and a sensible move.”
“They need to understand (Dr) Minnis is the prime minister and he’s also a doctor so he understands the logistics of this problem and people need to really listen to him. Whatever he says is with a medical background and he is emphasising precautionary measures so we should all listen to the instructions coming from the government to be safe.”