By TANYA SMITH-CARTWRIGHT
SUPER Value CEO Rupert Roberts says he feels much safer with the COVID-19 curfew in place and believes last year’s drop in crime is due to coronavirus restrictions.
Mr Roberts, owner of the food store chain and a victim of a home invasion, said he is not bothered by the curfew and any potential impact on business. He thinks crime will shoot up if the curfew is eliminated.
His stores now close at 7pm, giving staff and customers sufficient time to go home before the 10pm curfew.
On Monday, Police Commissioner Paul Rolle revealed a 16 percent drop in crime last year, but credited good police work for the decline, not COVID-19 restrictions.
“I feel safe doing business up until 7pm,” Mr Roberts told The Tribune. “I feel safe at home with the curfew, knowing that any and everybody can’t come to my bedroom with a gun again, the way they did before. The curfew is definitely helping to keep crime down. The curfew doesn’t bother us anymore.
“In fact, we found that customers are not shopping as late anymore – maybe due to a security problem so we used to close at 9pm, but now we are closing at 7pm. Even on weekends. We are open from 7am to 7pm.
“... People seem to want to get home before the cloak of darkness so the 10 o’clock curfew is not bothering us.”
Overall, Mr Roberts feels that COVID-19 restrictions put in place by Emergency Powers Orders, although seemingly constraining at times, should remain in place. He feels it keeps the Bahamian citizenry not only safe from COVID-19, but also from societal ills.
He continued: “I think crime has gotten less and I would hold the curfew responsible. Most businesses are closed by 10pm or 9pm. I think if we were to eliminate curfew, crime will multiply.
“I think we should hold on to the masks. I think it helps stop the spread (of COVID-19). I think after this pandemic is over, I believe when I travel I will continue to wear my mask. It’s something we have learned to use to protect ourselves and I think we should continue using it.”
In terms of personal prevention, Mr Roberts said: “On the advice of my doctor, I’ve been taking vitamin C, D and Zinc and of course I am getting my sunshine.
“So, I think that is a preventative and even if I were to get COVID, I don’t think it would be as bad as if I didn’t take those preventative measures. . .”
Mr Roberts said Super Value does its part in keeping its customers and staff safe from the deadly coronavirus by using plastic shields between customers and cashiers, enforcing mask wearing and most importantly, putting ultraviolet lights in the air-conditioning system to kill any germs that may enter the store.
In November 2020, the country’s state of emergency was extended until the end of this month.