Shoppers swarm stores, markets for first weekend lockdown
Crowded wholesales, a jam-packed downtown Kingston market district, and scores of vehicles and delivery trucks parked on the road as Jamaicans prepared for the first of three consecutive weekend lockdowns.
COVID-19 lockdowns have been imposed for three weekends from March 26 until April 12.
In a Jamaica House press briefing on Sunday, Prime Minister Andrew Holness said the lockdowns would begin from midday on Saturdays to Mondays at 5 a.m.
The measures were imposed to stem rising infections that have caused hospitalisations to skyrocket past 400, with daily positivity rates topping 20 per cent for weeks - and ranging as high as 42 per cent.
Venice Walters, 61, spent about 20 minutes waiting in line at National Baking Company on Slipe Road, Kingston, on Friday.
“I just came out to get a couple things and go back home. I am not one of those persons who wait until things announce; I replenish on a regular basis,” she said.
Walters commended the company for maintaining the COVID-19 protocols amid the rush.
Anthony Davidson opted to purchase his groceries at a different wholesale this week to reduce his risk of exposure to COVID-19.
“In that wholesale, there are usually less people. I was really trying to avoid the crowded places,” he explained.
A woman who gave her name only as Monique arrived at Master Mac Wholesale on Orange Street at almost midday and did not leave until 3 o’clock.
“Sardine-inna-tin settings down here,” she said of the crowd in the wholesale.
In the midst of the grocery rush, goods were being delivered to a number of wholesale establishments as they sought to keep up with the demand.
Ricardo Dawkins told The Gleaner that he was making no additional purchases for the weekend lockdown.
“I expected the crowding because everybody a try mek a final rush. Mi experience whole heap a traffic and crowded wholesales,” Dawkins said, adding that Friday was his usual shopping day.
Dacia Walsh described the experience in the wholesale she visited as “disgusting”.
“I’m in here from 3 o’ clock and me deh yah bout 20 minutes now. One likkle supm me order - just two pounds of stew pork for my Sunday dinner - and all now I can’t get it,” she bemoaned.
Walsh added that the market was swarming with people and there was little regard for social distancing.
A snack vendor on Orange Street, Halson Hunter, said he was yet to make preparations for the weekend lockdown.
“Mi nuh know how me a guh survive 'cause nuh money nuh deh right now. If me nuh hustle, mi cyah eat nuh food,” he said.
Hunter was busy stocking up on more snacks in a wholesale to get as much sales before the 8 p.m. curfew.
He was worried that the crowding in downtown might result in a spike in COVID-19 infections.
“Nuh social distancing nah run right now. Town a flood wid people,” the vendor lamented.
At KFC in Cross Roads, the drive-through line extended several metres into the road while walk-in customers waited in line.
Orders were being taken on the outside to ease the logjam when customers entered the fast-food establishment in small groups.