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Shoppers were lining up in well spaced rows outside Cayman’s supermarkets Tuesday as new measures came into place to enforce social distancing.
Major grocery stores, like Kirk Market and Foster’s, are some of the only businesses exempt from laws restricting public gatherings.
But owners are now legally required to make sure shoppers and staff maintain a safe social distance of six feet to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Some stores responded by cutting the number of shoppers allowed in store at any one time leaving lines of customers waiting outside the store. By 4:10 pm the queues outside of Kirk Market has become so long that it was forced to put out an emergency announcement indicating no more customers would be able to enter ahead of the new closure time of 6pm.
The message invited shoppers to come back Wednesday and insisted all items were still in stock and the long queues and wait times were caused by its efforts to comply with the new government guidelines rather than any supply issues.
Both Kirk and Foster’s announced changes to their operating hours, closing by 6pm, in accordance with curfew restrictions. Foster’s also announced that it was aiming to open Sundays. It is understood Kirk Market is seeking to do the same.
“To provide a happy, healthy shopping environment and to assist in social distancing requirements, we will be monitoring and restricting the number of customers within our stores throughout the day,” Foster’s said in a statement.
Similar measures seemed to be in place at all major stores Tuesday.
Hurley’s Marketplace published new guidelines on its Facebook page, saying, “Our queue at Hurley’s is short and people are getting in and out quickly.
“Each customer that enters the store must go in with one of 80 shopping carts. When a cart leaves the store it is sanitized and given to the next person in line. The system is working smoothly and the wait isn’t long.”
Meanwhile, Cost U Less announced a temporary pay rise for its hourly employees, saying they had worked harder than ever to ensure the shelves were stocked through the COVID-19 crisis. Other stores are understood to have taken similar action.
All Cayman’s supermarkets have collaborated on new measures to restrict shoppers to a maximum of two of each item per customer. The restriction applies across the stores, with the exception of the meat counter.
They insist the supply lines are still intact and that the aim is to stop people from panic buying.
Kirk Market is encouraging shoppers to opt for its delivery services.
Meanwhile Port Director Joseph Woods put out an audio message to reassure the public that there was no interruption of cargo flow into the islands.
“There is no fear about the shortage of cargo into the islands,” he added.
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