A customer shops at Raj Convenience Store on Sutton Street San Fernando on Thursday

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Amidst reports of COVID-19 infections at two major supermarket chains, more shoppers are flocking to smaller retail stores and are opting for curbside or online shopping within recent times.

This was revealed by the president of the Supermarkets Association Rajiv Diptee.

Speaking to Guardian Media on Thursday, Diptee assured that strict COVID-19 protocols are in place to protect staff and shoppers if positive cases are identified at supermarkets.

“When an employee tests positive, one or more, we keep records as per contact tracing requirements. We liaise with the principal medical officer and CMO. We sanitise the premises, check for secondary, tertiary tracing. We try to minimise the number of people in contact,” Diptee said.

He explained that staff is rostered for the number of days and are kept on separate shifts on separate days.

Saying commingling is sometimes unavoidable because of the nature of human beings, Diptee said employees and customers have been even more vigilant because of the number of infections and deaths.

“It really is scary right now. Everyone knows someone who has contracted COVID and people who may have lost their lives to COVID. We are seeing a heightened level of urgency where compliance is concerned,” Diptee added.

He noted that supermarkets have been cracking down on the culture of a daily shopper who comes every day to the supermarket to get one or two items.

Diptee also said, “We are seeing more customers, in particular, going more digital in terms of curbside and WhatsApp deliveries and online shopping where there are third party apps in place to distribute. Some of the customers are altogether avoiding the bigger stores and heading to the smaller retail stores which are now experiencing more traffic.”

Last Saturday, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley urged citizens to refrain from going to the grocery daily, saying shopping should be done only if it is absolutely necessary.

Several groceries have also adjusted shopping times to prevent the spread of the virus.

Earlier this week Xtra Foods marketing manager, Daniel Austin, confirmed that two staff members tested positive for the virus but denied that the supermarket had 54 positive cases as reported on social media.

He said all Ministry of Health protocols were being followed.

On its Facebook page on Thursday, Xtra Foods stated, “We recognise and thank our custodians for the hard work they do to keep us safe. They work assiduously to keep our branches sanitised and cleaned throughout the day.”

Persad’s Grocery at High Street in Princes Town also confirmed that one employee had tested positive on May 10. Both groceries were closed and thoroughly sanitised before reopening.