RESIDENTS in St Catherine breathed a sigh of relief yesterday as they say their experience securing essential items on the first day of shopping since the Government relaxed lockdown measures in the parish was a lot better than last week.
Initially, only two days, for approximately three hours each day, were allowed to residents for the purchase of food and other essential items in the parish, which has been under lockdown since the country saw a spike in COVID-19 cases associated with a single organisation in one of the major town centres there.
However, those shopping times were earlier this weak extended, with residents now being allowed to shop from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, with the other three days designated as “no movement days” for residents, but stores will be allowed to restock.
Rochelle Christie, who was seen at Shoppers Fair Supermarket in Eltham Park yesterday, told the Jamaica Observer that she is very appreciative of the changes, adding that the previous shopping stipulations were just not feasible.
“The last time I came here when we had to shop by surnames, the line was so long that most persons in the line ended up by the scheme down the road from the supermarket, which is a pretty good distance away. To me, that didn’t make any sense,” she reasoned.
“If they [Government] want to give specific persons a certain day, like those with names beginning with A to about G, give them a whole day. Three hours could have never worked, because at the end of the day everybody wants to get food. And then, by the time persons reached inside [the supermarket], there was nothing left, and so restocking had to be done. By the time that is complete, time up and yuh gone over curfew, and then you will be in hot water. Today (yesterday) is way better, way better,” she said.
Ray Matthews, who was also waiting in line at the supermarket, said: “Mi never come out here Saturday because it never worth it. Mi hear say people did all a pass out inna di line. Today (yesterday) it has taken me about 25 minutes to get to the front of the line — that nuh bad.”
Another resident agreed with Matthews.
“Based on what I saw last time it is much better today,” said Lisa McDonald, who was also in line yesterday. “The line was extremely long last week and I don’t see that now, but I don’t know if it will happen later.”
When the Observer visited other stores in the area, there was noticeably fewer people in line, except for one location.
There was a large crowd of people waiting to collect remittances at the Western Union at the Jampet Service Station on Brunswick Avenue.
Some of them shared with the Observer that they had been waiting for an extended time. A few attributed the long wait to inefficiency.
“There are a lot persons out here and this is a small Western Union, so that has contributed to the slowness today,” said Shakera Chambers. “Even though I have been here for about four hours, it is still better than [last] Saturday. I came [last] Saturday and didn’t even stay, I saw the crowd and left.”
Paulette McFarlene, who was also in line at the location, said: “I came here about 10:00 am and mi still nuh get through. The workers are working very slow and I think that has contributed to me waiting so long this time around.
“They need more cashiers, more people are out now so they might need more workers,” she suggested. “All the business places may need to do this in order for things to run smoothly.”
Shanell Dixon, who was seen in Spanish Town, shared that she felt less anxious while shopping yesterday when compared to last week.
“Getting things done today is far easier than it was last week. More shopping days with longer hours obviously would equal to less panicking, which also leads to less cases of corona[virus], because now people are not pushing in lines to get food and touching on each other. I’m not sure why the Government did not predict all that happened last week, but I am happy to know that it was fixed,” she said.
In Portmore, things were reported to be less chaotic.
Denson Brown, who was spotted at Progressive Foods in the Sovereign Village, said: “Last week it did worse than this. I’ve been here about 20 minutes and I’m almost at the front of the line. The new time change is definitely working out better than the previous one.”
Clive Campbell, another Portmore resident, said: “Today (yesterday) things are much more organised. The supermarket I went to last week, it wasn’t so organised. You had to push to get through, but today it seems as though people are not in such a mode of panic because the measures have been relaxed a bit, and there is more time to shop.”
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