‘Mayhem and discord’ outside New Providence food stores

Floyd Collins, 24, was one of hundreds of patrons who filled the vicinity of the Super Value food store in the Seagrapes Plaza shortly after 5 a.m. yesterday.

He spent more than seven hours reading a book and listening to music as he waited to enter the store.

“I feel as though this could be dealt with more business tact,” Collins told The Nassau Guardian.

“I understand the ministry’s concern to prevent more cases, but the way they’re going about it is unorthodox and it shows a lack of empathy.

“I feel as though they should be more caring for the public. How do you enact a mandate for a shutdown in the middle of the week for an entire week?

“The solution is becoming greater than the problem. They should review the solutions they want to impose on the public because it’s only causing mayhem and discord.”

Collins remained seemingly unfazed — occasionally checking the time on his phone — as he awaited entry. He did not get inside the store until nearly 12:30 p.m.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced a national shopping schedule and noted that senior citizens and disabled individuals would be given priority shopping between 6 a.m. and 12 p.m. on Tuesday.

Other patrons would be permitted entry to stores based on the first letter of their last name, according to the prime minister.

The measures were put in place in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19 in The Bahamas. As of yesterday, there were 36 confirmed cases; six people have died to date.

Despite that announcement, scores of patrons, who were not on that special list, mumbled under their breaths about how they had woken up at 4 a.m. only to be denied entry to the store.

Some took to yelling at the store’s manager and demanding that they be let inside.

On several occasions, store employees requested that people leave the line after they refused to adhere to social distancing or were caught line jumping.

Police were called to the scene at least twice.

“It’s very frustrating,” said Rashan Johnson, 32.

“It could’ve been organized better… Everyone is still bunched up. It doesn’t make any sense.”

As he stood near the back of the line, which wrapped around the plaza, Shavado Taylor, 35, worried that there would be nothing left for him once he entered the store.

“If you see the trolleys that are coming out of here, these people are trying to buy everything,” he told The Guardian.

“So, by the time we reach there, there might not be anything left. People basically hoarding. We will only get the leftovers that people don’t want.”

Bertha Bain, who is in her 70s, sat in a folding chair just steps away from Taylor.

She was one of more than 100 senior citizens who waited in the sun for their turn to enter.

However, she was not bothered by the long line.

“I’m here on the seniors’ line and I’m chilling,” Bain said with a smile.

“I have my water and I’m just waiting on my time.”

It took her a little over an hour to enter the store.

But, for Bernard Beneby, 65, the process was not as easy.

He waited for nearly two hours to enter.

“I thought from six to 12 the senior citizens would get in, but they’re letting in the young people before the senior citizens, so I just got to wait until they open up the door,” he told The Guardian.

“It’s disorganized.”

The scene at the food store in the Seagrapes Plaza was not an unusual sight yesterday.

Photos and videos of thousands of patrons — of all ages, races and socioeconomic backgrounds — enduring similar situations across New Providence were widely circulated on social media.

In some of them, people could be seen trying to push their way into stores.

As a result, the prime minister announced that the operational hours for food stores will be extended to 10 p.m.

He said police officers, defense force officers and healthcare workers will be permitted to shop between 6 a.m. and 12 p.m. on Thursday.

Other essential workers, including social service employees, firefighters and members of the media, will be permitted to shop between 12 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Thursday, according to Minnis.

A “complete” nationwide shutdown is expected to start tonight and end on Tuesday morning.’

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