Police close Farmers Market; Long lines form at supermarkets

LIVE: For the latest updates on the coronavirus, follow our live blog.

Updated: Police closed down the Farmers Market at the Cricket Grounds in George Town Saturday afternoon because people were failing to abide by social distancing rules that require them to stay six feet from one another.

A notice posted on the Farmers Market Facebook page stated, “Unfortunately due to the fact that the social distancing order was not being followed, the market has been closed by RCIPS.”

Police Commissioner Derek Byrne said at a press briefing Saturday that the market had not received an exemption to operate during the ongoing soft curfew and therefore was closed down.

Meanwhile, long lines continued to form outside supermarkets throughout Cayman. Stores are required to limit the number of people allowed inside in accordance with the social distancing order.

Original story:

Lines started forming outside supermarkets shortly after Cayman’s 24-hour curfew was lifted at 5am Saturday morning.

Despite a plea from Premier Alden McLaughlin to members of the public not to flock to the supermarkets Saturday, hundreds of shoppers were queuing outside all the major supermarkets by early morning.

Stores had been closed since Wednesday evening, when the daily 24-hour curfew began.

McLaughlin appealed to the public during a press conference on Friday afternoon to put off their shopping until next week, if possible.

“There is no need to rush to the supermarkets; there is more than adequate groceries and other supplies for everyone. If you can skip going to the supermarket tomorrow [Saturday] and can go on Monday, please do,” he said.

Grocery stores and supermarkets re-opened Saturday, as a 10-day ‘soft curfew’ or ‘shelter in place’ order between the hours of 5am and 7pm came into place. Daily ‘hard curfew’ hours of 7pm to 5am will begin to be implemented today and will also remain for the next 10 days. During hard curfew hours, only essential personnel are allowed out of their homes.

At several stores, two lines were in place Saturday morning – one for regular shoppers and a second line for elderly or vulnerable people and essential workers.

Officials are asking that only one person per household be designated to carry out shopping trips and that only essential trips should be considered. Children should stay at home, government urged.

Additional police officers were deployed to help stores deal with the anticipated crowds.

At Friday’s press briefing, Commissioner Derek Byrne said, “The RCIPS is working in partnership with the supermarkets and retailers to deploy extra uniform patrols at various supermarket locations around the island on Saturday… to create a more positive and safe environment for persons to move around and conduct their business all in compliance with the new Public Health Regulations passed on Friday, March 27.”

During the soft curfew hours, only supermarkets, mini-marts, pharmacies, healthcare facilities, banks and gas stations are allowed to operate, under the new regulations, announced by Attorney General Samuel Bulgin on Friday, to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Premier Alden McLaughlin on Friday described the new measures as the ‘Stay Home Cayman’ survival plan.

Supermarket hours in the curfew period are as follows:

Cost-U-Less: 8am-6pm, Monday through Saturday
Dedicated shopping hour for vulnerable: 7-8am

Foster’s: 6am-6pm, Monday through Saturday
Dedicated shopping hour for vulnerable: 6-7am

Hurley’s: 9am-6pm, Monday-Saturday, for general public
Dedicated shopping for elderly/vulnerable, HSA staff and first responders: 7-9am

Kirk Market: 6am-6pm, Monday-Saturday
Dedicated shopping lanes for elderly/vulnerable individuals

Full coverage: Coronavirus

If you value our service, if you have turned to us in the past few days or weeks for verified, factual updates, if you have watched our live streaming of press conferences or sent an article to a friend... please consider a donation. Quality local journalism was at risk before the coronavirus crisis. It is now deeply threatened. Even a small amount can go a long way to sustaining our mission of informing the public. We need our readers’ financial support now more than ever.