By Elizabeth F. McNamara
Around town, businesses are responding to the ever-tightening restrictions and growing fear around the coronavirus COVID-19 by ramping up cleaning protocols and, in some cases, trying to keep products on the shelves.
At Stop and Shop, there was nothing but empty on the long shelves usually lined with toilet paper. CVS and other stores are sold out of hand sanitizer. The Ocean State Job Lot on Post Road had 1,000 bottles on Wednesday but, even limiting them to two per person, they were sold out by Thursday.
Dave’s Marketplace was bustling Thursday afternoon – not Thanksgiving or Christmas busy, but busy. Shelves were full. Susan Budlong, Dave’s director of marketing and communication, said the store has good relationships with its vendors. She acknowledged however that things are changing rapidly.
“At some point we’re going to run out of some things,” she said. That said, they have no plans to start rationing. “We’re Americans. We kind of like what we like,” Budlong said. “I don’t foresee us limiting what customers can buy.”
In terms of cleaning, Budlong said the store is cleaned thoroughly each night by a cleaning crew and throughout the day by porters and at the end of February they doubled the number of cleaners and increased the number of Purell stations. Management is also checking in with employees regularly to make sure they are feeling well. Handwashing signs are all over the bathrooms she said and more staff members are using gloves as well.
“We want to make sure we are confident, our employees are confident, and customers are confident.
Meanwhile, on Main Street, businesses are mainly focused on helping customers feel safe.
At Filippou’s Twisted Pizza, manager Scott Garnett said they’ve always focused on keeping things clean but they are increasing efforts, sanitizing tables, chairs, door handles, and flat surfaces regularly. The eatery already had a hand sanitizer mounted on the wall near the cash register. Garnett said employees are also washing their hands – “I wash my hands a hundred times a day,” he said. “We’re always cleaning.
Sundance Massage and Wellness owner Sara Doherty said she anticipates there will be financial repercussions. While the schedule there is full now, one client did cancel earlier Thursday, saying he wouldn’t be back until “this whole thing blows over.”
For Doherty, that’s the wrong approach.
“If you get a massage or sauna, it would support your immune system. Stress and worry weaken your system,” she said. As a massage studio, they’ve always paid a lot of attention to cleanliness, Doherty said. Now they are redoubling their efforts, “erring on the side of caution.”
At Raw Bob’s, business has been brisk this week, said owner Patti Burton. Partly she said that was due to the warmer weather but part could be virus related she thought.
“It tells me people are looking to be proactive,” she said.
As for cleaning, Burton said people in food service are a little ahead of the game. “We’ve had to handle things the way everyone needs to now. We’re extremely mindful.”
The East Greenwich Free Library remains open but larger group events have been cancelled for now. They are cleaning surfaces and people who use the computers are given Lysol wipes to clean the keyboards. Director Karen Taylor said they are not cleaning off books and other items as they are returned as the volume – “hundreds” daily – is too great.
Read more about East Greenwich’s response to COVID-19 here:
School Activities Cancelled for Now
Town Prepares for Virus Threat
COVID-19 Test Negative for Meadowbrook Sibling, School Resumes
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