With thousands across New Providence caught off guard by the competent authority’s announcement on Monday of a complete lockdown, AML Foods Limited Chief Executive Officer and President Gavin Watchorn defended the company’s request for special permission to serve only its employees yesterday.
While most businesses were shuttered yesterday, the parking lot at Solomon’s Super Center was packed with cars of employees, to the chagrin of many residents who complained on social media that it was unfair.
Watchorn said the company requested permission to open to its 850 team associates because they were unable to secure essential food items.
“AML remains committed to taking care of our 850-strong team of associates, particularly during times of crisis, so that they can in turn provide great experiences to our customers and communities. Our stores were extremely busy on Monday coming out of the weekend lockdown,” he said.
“Most of our team members worked a full day and were already home when the announcement of the closure was made. Immediately, we began to receive reports of staff needs. We wrote to request and received permission for them to shop today and worked with the relevant authorities to ensure we complied with all guidelines.”
Given the extreme financial difficulty faced by many during this COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis, Watchorn said ensuring AML staff are properly supported has become a priority.
“Our team is our greatest asset. We have provided a number of COVID-19 bonuses, increased our team member discount, allowed high-risk team members to take paid leave and more recently reassigned our Domino’s team members to work in our grocery division, to ensure that they receive an uninterrupted salary while they remain closed. We appreciate all that they do and are extremely proud of all their hard work and resilience,” he said.
Following public outrage, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis reversed his complete lockdown mandate late yesterday, announcing in a statement that food stores, pharmacies, gas stations and hardware stores would be allowed to reopen beginning today.