Local baby shops have been granted exemption to open for business under the new ‘shelter in place’ rules, Premier Alden McLaughlin announced.

McLaughlin, in response to pleas from parents and expectant parents, said on Sunday that a number of baby stores “have applied for and been granted permission to operate”.

They will be allowed to open from 9am to 1pm during the soft curfew, which runs from 5am to 7pm.

The shops have been added to the list of services allowed to operate, which includes supermarkets, gas stations, restaurants (delivery/pick-up only) and liquor stores.

Under the new rules, residents whose surnames begin with the letters A-K will be allowed out of their homes during soft curfew hours on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and those whose surnames start with L-Z Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. This applies to essential services only; outside of that everyone has to remain under lockdown.

On Monday, the Cayman Compass reached out to moms and local Facebook group Caymums to get their take on baby shops being allowed to open for limited hours.

Expectant mom Kate Theron said the premier’s decision was a “welcomed relief”.

“I had joked with my friends that I was starting to think my new baby would have to be wrapped in a towel and laid in a manger! The preparation for a baby is a long and involved process and especially for new mothers-to-be, it can cause a great amount of anxiety to feel unprepared during a time where there aren’t any opportunities to travel or receive care packages from home,” she said in an emailed response to the Compass.

Theron said expectant mothers throughout the island are having to deal with the cancellation of their baby showers, which means they are having to source all of their own supplies.

“From a social-distancing perspective, it is not even possible to collect secondhand items from friends or eCayTrade. Deeming ‘baby shops’ as essential is 100% the right decision and one that most are extremely pleased to hear,” she said.

Mom of two Kari Fraser also welcomed the premier’s announcement.

However, she said the opening of the shops needs to be properly managed, so mothers and their families are not exposed.

While she agreed the stores should only be open for those who really need the baby items, like a friend of hers who was unable to have a baby shower, Fraser added, “But they should open by appointments so you can come and get your stuff and then you leave. Then you are not being exposed to a lot of people.”

She also cautioned parents to spend wisely given the current economic climate.

“People tend to spend a lot on their kids and at this time everyone needs to be saving money,” Fraser said.

Mom Hayley Malloy said she understood the need for certain products required by expecting and new mothers, such as breast pumps, cribs and bottles, but she is concerned it would open “the door for people to go shop for toys and other non-essential items”.

She agreed with Fraser’s suggestion that the shops should take customers by appointment, to allow expecting mothers to purchase items they need, and remain closed to the public.

Mom Samantha Powell suggested that appointments for expectant moms and women who gave birth within the last four to six weeks should be given first priority.

“I think if they have the hospital lists handy as well it will smooth the process instead of guessing what you need for your stay. There is more needed than diapers and formulas as not everyone has the funds to [buy all items in] bulk…[or] crib or playpen, car seat and stroller, or family here to help assist. I don’t think it needs everyday but at least twice a week,” she said.

Theron urged the community only to visit the stores if they absolutely need to since there are limited hours that an expectant mother can shop.

“It really should be restricted to the most urgent of purchases so that mothers who are due within the next few weeks have a solid opportunity to get all the equipment they need in a safe environment,” she added.

Mom Yvette Turner believes that most pregnant women are prepared with the necessary items upon delivery. She said she is worried by opening more businesses it risks Cayman remaining in lockdown longer.

“The more things we keep opening where human contact and cross contamination can happen the longer it will take to resume life as normal, send our kids back to school, work etc. I did not see this as essential right now. Food and diapers can be bought in a supermarket. Sorry I am not being insensitive, just trying to be realistic,” she said.

Britt McGregor, owner of The Bump Boutique, who had applied for an exemption, addressed that concern, saying she would only provide curb-side pick up or open by appointment.

“Ideally, everyone would love to be prepared in advance but this is not the case for many,” she said. “Limiting contact is super important (especially for pregnant and new moms), and we would love to be able to help them as much as possible.”

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