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Panic buying eased before curfew announcement

Following days of large crowds panic buying as they prepared to stay indoors due to the impact of COVID-19, the scene at some grocery and convenience stores calmed down by Wednesday. 

At Lowe’s Harbour Bay, although a few shelves that normally contain cleaning supplies were empty, the store otherwise seemed back to normal. 

Danielle Sands was one of the dozen or so customers doing a bit of shopping. 

“I actually came to just get some refills on my father’s prescription, who’s a senior citizen, because he may be indoors for a while – or he should be, because he’s high-risk, he’s over 80 and he has heart disease,” Sands told The Nassau Guardian.

“So I came to top him up for 30 days, just in case, and then while I’m waiting – because it’s a 20-minute wait because the pharmacy is pretty busy – I’m just picking up some stuff for my baby.

“Just general stuff like wipes, pampers and stuff like that… I mean, I always keep a surplus for [my baby] so I probably have at home, but while I’m here I’m just topping up just in case.”

Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis tabled a proclamation by the governor general declaring a public state of emergency on Wednesday as the number of COVID-19 cases in the country rose to three.

Yesterday evening, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis ordered a national curfew and a raft of business closures to take effect today.

The Guardian visited these stores before that announcement.

The virus causes fever, cough, shortness of breath and in severe cases pneumonia. 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), older patients or people with pre-existing health conditions are more likely to die from COVID-19.

Sands said she is not intending to “hoard” supplies but just wanted to be prepared should the government give lockdown or social isolation orders. 

“It’s better to be safe than sorry,” she said.

“Not hoarding or really stockpiling but obviously [my son] is not coming out of the home, and I want to make sure that if it comes to it, if I don’t have to I would not have to leave my home either because he’s a baby.”

Sands does not seem to be the only one securing medication, as Christine Curry-Wong, a worker at Curry’s Pharmacy off Madeira Street, said they have seen a lot of elderly customers coming in to do precisely the same thing. 

“Most people come in for like two months’, three months’ supply and stuff like that,” Curry-Wong said.

“Like Vitamin C, we’re out of that completely. Some of the cough syrups, we’re out and masks and gloves, we still have gloves but we don’t have any masks. All gone.”

She added that highly sought-after products like Lysol, Dettol and “anything with hygiene” were continuously being sold out. 

The store was very busy when The Guardian visited.

A regular flow of customers was coming and going, and, like Lowe’s, there was a wait at the pharmacy window at the back of the store. 

In the popular shopping center where the pharmacy is located, most other stores appeared deserted.

Not far off, a handwritten sign posted on the front door of Dollars & Sense advised would-be customers that they were also out of those kind of highly sought after products. 

Dollars & Sense Manager Shuvon Duncombe told The Guardian that this was the quietest the store had been in the past few weeks, likely because people “done basically get most of the things that they need”.

“Business was good,” she said.

“Everybody was spending and shopping, trying to get all the necessary things that they need to prepare themselves.”

Only a few customers were browsing the aisles at the time, but Duncombe said her store did not intend to cut back on staff or close their doors as things quiet down. 

“No, we’re not cutting back and as you see we’re still open, and we don’t know how long but we’re still open to accommodate with anything that people need that we have,” she said.

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