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Customers shop at Massy Stores in Maraval, on Friday.

Joshua Seemungal

As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb locally, supermarkets have opted to make essential operational changes.

According to the Supermarket Association of Trinidad and Tobago (SATT), in a press release issued yesterday, it acted out of grave concern for the increase in COVID-19 cases and deaths.

The association’s president Rajiv Diptee said as one of the consistently operational bodies during the pandemic, it intended to do its part to limit the spread of the virus.

“What we’ve done is we’ve effectively reduced the ability of persons to congregate at, inside or outside of the stores, depending on which stores you visit,” Diptee said in a phone interview.

He asked customers to refrain from visiting supermarkets daily.

With immediate effect, the association said supermarkets are strictly enforcing a one member per family entrance policy, subject to a few exemptions.

Meanwhile, it said the number of shopping carts in stores will be limited to adjust capacity, while staff members will double mask and wear face shields and personal protective equipment (PPE) where possible.

SATT sought to assure that factors allowing for a quicker circulation of customers – like the number of available cash registers – have been increased.

“It’s also for the safety of our workers whom we are very concerned about, who are expressing an interest in being vaccinated. Now, as we see more members of staff get tested and return positive in some cases, we have deep and rising concerns about our health,” Diptee said.

The sale of large appliances and furniture, except for mini appliances and household items, were suspended.

“We’ve spoken to all the stores and we’ve dropped all advertising and anything that is considered an inducement or an enticement to leave your home to come to the stores,” Diptee said.

The Supermarket Association asked the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service to continue assisting with crowd management.

It said it will engage the relevant authorities about having special reserve police officers and traffic wardens assist.

It also asked for the Prime Minister’s COVID-19 press conferences to be held at a later time, saying that it often results in unnecessary, wild runs to supermarkets.

The changes will be in effect until May 23rd.