Bran: 'No Justification' For Curb-Side Retailing


Branville McCartney


Tribune Business Editor


The DNA's former leader yesterday argued there was "no justification at all" for restricting merchants to curb-side operations - a move expected to cause a 15-20 percent sales fall at his family's pharmacy.

Branville McCartney told Tribune Business that limitations on the number of customers in-store at any particular time, as well as the enforcement of COVID-19 health protocols by retailers, had "seemed to be working well" prior to the latest measures imposed by the Government to contain the virus' spread.

Asserting that curb-side caused "a strain" for businesses, pharmacies and clients, he suggested this restriction did little to combat the COVID-19 "hot spots" that the Government has identified among office workplaces and multiple public sector agencies.

The weekend lockdowns, Mr McCartney said, were akin to ensuring the virus "stays at home" for two days before it is let out from Monday to Friday as he branded the Minnis administration's strategy "a little willy nilly".

Turning to the problems the latest restrictions have posed for pharmacies, he told this newspaper: "One of the difficulties we have with the curb-side is persons, when they come to the pharmacy, are primarily coming for prescription drugs. More often than not, these prescriptions are personal in nature, private and confidential, and you don't want others to know.

"So, doing curb-side, persons have to speak to security or one of the persons in-store, not a pharmacist, let them know what the prescription is or give it to them. They take it to the pharmacist who fills it out, and then it is taken back to the customer. The privacy issue is a concern."

Mr McCartney added that the current inability of customers to access pharmacies in-store meant purchases of non-medical items would drop-off sharply. "Sales are significantly reduced with curb-side," he said.

"The last time we did curb-side, sales were 15-20 percent reduced. A pharmacy not only has drugs, but ours, Wilmac's, is more a convenience store. It has groceries, every-day items, and people tend to purchase those items while they wait for prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs.

"The major part of our pharmacy is over-the-counter items in terms of taking up some of the floor space in the pharmacy. If they can't get in, persons are unable to make a determination as to whether to purchase or not. It's a strain on the business, but it is what it is. It's very taxing."

Some retailers, such as Kelly's House & Home, have opted to close indefinitely until the curb-side restriction is lifted, with many merchants - especially those lacking an online ordering operation - saying it drives them into losses with sales down by as much as 60-70 percent compared to in-store levels.

Mr McCartney, meanwhile, told Tribune Business it was hard to understand the rationale for the Government's insistence on curb-side for pharmacies and retail given that the sectors have not been identified as a major source of COVID-19 spread.

"There doesn't seem to be much justification; no justification at all," he said. "I don't see a huge difference between curb-side or having a certain number of persons in the pharmacy at the same time.

"We have protocols and procedures as to how far apart people should be from each other, where they stand and a minimum number of persons allowed in the premises at the same time. That seemed to work well. No I haven't seen any justification for that [curb-side]."

Conceding, however, that measures were needed to reduce COVID-19 infection rate, Mr McCartney added: "Look, something has to be done with this problem we have. It's out of control, quite frankly. This virus seems to have taken control, but if you're going to make decisions as to how to reduce the spread there ought to be some plan for this and what to do after.

"To me it seems a little willy nilly, going to lockdowns at the weekend and hope the virus stays at home, and then Monday to Friday it's allowed to go out." Mr McCartney also questioned how restricting retailers and pharmacies to curb-side would address the main COVID-19 hot spots, which have been shown to be government offices and other work spaces.


DDK 1 month, 2 weeks ago

The people making these stupid decisions are people whose income and ability to survive financially are people whose salaries and benefits are untouched by the great pandemic and are therefore unfazed by these "emergency", constitutionally questionable, lockdown rules and regulations. Willy-nilly is putting it mildly!


Honestman 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Curb side restrictions are totally stupid.


thps 1 month, 2 weeks ago

What's the difference between the average pharmacy and the average convenience store? One sells meds the others don't, yet one has to offer full curbside and the other doesn't.


TalRussell 1 month, 2 weeks ago

His ability to tap into the lucrative over profiteering from doctors' prescription must buy medicines, seems to have worked out well for him off the family's pass down. Shakehead once for Yeah, Twice for Not?


John 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Some of the bigger and more popular retailers bhad to close fue to Corona outbreaks amongst byhrirvstaff. And government departments keep having to close. Road traffic,despite offering curbside service, had to close several times. And many of the major cities that have seen surges in corona cases have implemented some form of restrictions on retailers and ordered others to close. So ay this point comply for another week or two and see what happens.


John 1 month, 2 weeks ago

The look on their faces has changed. When you drive through the inner city, there are people sitting around, some still in lines at the food stores or the atm. And the look on there faces is different from the first two lockdowns . Not a look of desperation or fear but one of survival but with inner peace. And it’s no longer a fear of Corona but an acceptance of the situation these Bahamians, like many people around the world find themselves in. I ain’t as worried about corona as I am about getting something to eat or making sure my children or my family straight.


jackbnimble 1 month, 2 weeks ago

If COVID is being spread by going into a retail store then Super Value, Solomon’s and the other food-stores must be the biggest spreaders because they also sell medicines, shoes and clothing and scores of people go in and out all day so what’s the difference? In many cases the protocols are no even followed.

Either the competent authority is determined to make one set of retailers rich or they just don’t know what they are doing. I think people would find it easier to be able to spread out and go to different stores for their needs versus piling up at the food store which is being forced to become a one stop shop for everything. Have you seen the crowds at the food stores? Again if covid is spreading not allowing the other retailers to open their doors with a minimum number of customers (which most were doing anyway) is not helping.


KapunkleUp 1 month, 2 weeks ago

This guy has about as much credibility as a 3 legged roach.


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