NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Hundreds of people flocked to home department stores yesterday after nearly a month of being shut down to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Eager customers began queuing outside the Kelly’s Home Department store from 5am and waited until the Marathon Mall location opened its doors just after 7am.
By that time, the department store had already garnered a line of customers that stretched past Island Luck’s door.
Customers were let into the store in groups of 30 and encouraged to purchase their items quickly, avoiding any loitering.
Many of the shoppers could be seen leaving the store with just a few items, ranging from fans, tools, paint supplies, and even a few inflatable pools.
The majority, however, seemed to be purchasing gardening items ranging from water hoses, mulch, plant pots and more.
One woman, who asked not to be named, said there were only two cars waiting when she arrived shortly after 5am.
Anticipating the wait, she said she had already planned to go for a morning run at the R.M. Bailey Park.
After she took her spot in line, she said everything ran smoothly.
“All weekend I wanted a chair and that’s mainly what I come for, a chair and some soil to plant some of my greens,” she said.
“…Everyone headed to the gardening supply part when they first came in.”
Another man, who joined the line after 8am, said he is among those who have decided to start gardening amidst the pandemic.
He said he decided to toe the line to get some seedlings and other items and also to cut some.
“Why not,” he said, “what else do I have to do?”
Down on the Western end of New Providence, there were also queues of people stationed at Quality Home Center and CBS Bahamas on Carmichael Road.
The traffic congestion in that area around noon yesterday looked like a routine day.
Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis announced on Sunday that additional essential services would be allowed to open this week.
Minnis announced that hardware, lumber, plumbing, electrical stores, auto part stores, hardware and homes and plant nurseries will now be included as essential services, and open to the public throughout the week.
The prime minister also advised that landscaping and property maintenance would be allowed to operate during the 24-hour-curfew.
Throughout New Providence, gardeners and landscapers could also be seen once again triming hedges and tending to greenery.
Despite the view of the parts of the island today, Health Minister Dr. Duane Sands has said the country is not ready to be out of lockdown.
“I know people want to break out of isolation and break out of quarantine and come out of lockdown,” he said.
“We are not there yet, and we are not going to be there anytime soon.”