With The Bahamas under a 24-hour curfew, and non-essential businesses closed in an effort to contain the spread of the new coronavirus, a local grocery store chain and pharmacy have placed emphasis on sanitation and hygiene to ensure the safety of its customers.
“We are doing our part,” said Kendrick Moss, operations manager, Super Value. “We put measures in place even before the first case was confirmed and had begun sanitizing our stores even more frequently.”
According to Moss, Super Value’s cleaning protocol mandates hourly disinfection of frequently touched surfaces at all of its 13 locations.
“Everything that the customer would touch – shopping cart handles, baskets, cooler doors, the case doors that they push up, where they lean on – we put a routine in place to get that as often as possible. And I’m on my cleaners, I’m on the managers, I’m on the system managers because a lot of people flock to our stores and our stores must be clean and they must be sanitized,” he said.
Prior to the first in-country confirmed case, Moss said the grocery store chain had an intensive in-store disinfecting program, especially during flu season, which they’ve now stepped up to another level because of the pandemic which up to Monday had 770,653 confirmed cases and 36,846 deaths globally.
“A couple of weeks ago, I brought all the cleaners in from all the stores to the head office and we showed them different things, gave them guidelines, showed them pictures and instruction on what to do, what not to do and how to do it. We gave them information that we think is helping and would continue to help in this battle that we’re in.”
After confirmation of the first in-country case of COVID-19, Moss said the company stepped up its pressure cleaning and disinfecting protocols for the sidewalks and exterior walls of their stores where customers queue to wait to enter the building. The pressure cleaning takes place at night after stores are closed. Moss said they are able to pressure clean one to two stores per night, based on proximity with a two-man team.
“We cannot hit all the stores every night with the curfew. Right now, we can probably hit one or two, depending on how close the stores are. I’m trying to get permission to pressure clean more stores during the night. If I were to get permission, I could probably do five stores a night.”
He said his team would be able to clean the exterior of at least five stores in one night if they could work until midnight then rotate the cleaning to at least three times per week – if they get permission to do so.
“As long as the threat persists, I want to have those guys cleaning those sidewalks. It’s our duty as a company to make sure that our customers are safe.”
Prior to COVID-19, Moss said the stores each had different scenarios, but were pressure cleaned once every two or three months.
The operations manager said they’ve also stepped up the pressure cleaning of their shopping carts, which he said happened periodically before coronavirus, but they are now doing more often. He could not say with what frequency cart cleaning was being done.
“We can do our part as a company to help the government, help the country bring this under control. When customers come in Super Value, they can feel safe.”
Moss said the focus is not just on keeping the store’s customers safe, but its 1,000 employees as well.
“We can’t compromise – not in the least.” said the operations manager.
At the Prescription Parlour Pharmacy, in addition to limiting the number of people inside the store at any one time, people are also asked to take advantage of one of two sanitation methods offered – washing hands prior to entering the store at a wash station or use sanitizer provided on the inside. Failure to do either option means they will not be allowed into the store, according to Laura Pratt-Charlton, director of pharmacy services.
“We have also created social distancing circles that would allow persons to stand with enough distance between them and the next customer at the checkout or at the pharmacy queue,” said Pratt-Charlton.
“We try to keep the customers to 20 persons inside at any time; the size of the store allows people to keep their distance from each other, which is important.”