Sri Lanka supermarkets limit basket size, customers respond in Coronavirus fight

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka largest supermarket chains have outlined measures maintain social distance to fight a Coronavirus outbreak and curb panic buying by limiting baskets, and customers responded in an orderly fashion, an industry official said.

“We saw today how orderly our people were maintaining a 1-meter distanceentering in small numbers, wearing masks and sanitizers before entering the outlets; so they are cooperating,” Sidath Kodikara, President of Sri Lanka Retailers Association told EconomyNext.

Kodikara said that the people were buying responsibly and not in large quantities while thinking about the next customer, when curfew was lifted in most districts on Monday.

On Tuesday curfew will be lifted from 0600 to 1200 hours in eight districts including Colombo and Gampaha, which have the largest population.

“The challenge is tomorrow, there’s only few hours to shop but I hope it will be the same tomorrow too because there is plenty of food to go around,” Kodikara said.

Staff had been trained on hygiene, provided with necessary kits such as masks, sanitizers, and food to safeguard their health as well as the customers.

“We have taken all the learnings from the markets like China, South Korea, Italy and Spain and the UN too is sharing all the information’s best practices which we are communicating to our members,” Kodikara said.

Cargills in a social media statement said it will allow on 20 customers at a time in to its FoodCity outlets and 08 customers will be allowed at its FoodCity Express outlets whilst maintaining a 1-meter distance between the shoppers and the staff.

Cargills also requested its customers to cover their mouths and nose when entering the outlet and to cut short the spending time to 20 minutes maximum.

Keells Super allows 15 customers at a time while maintaining a 1-meter distance between the customers and staff. A customer can only purchase 3 units or 3 kg of any product.

Keells also encourages its customers to use card transactions.

Sri Lanka has clamped down rolling three day curfews to curb movement but is allowing food transport.

In some countries curfew-like rules have been made stopping all businesses but groceries and supermarkets are open and people can travel to buy food and other items.

Sri Lanka imposed an Island-wide curfew from March 19 to March 23, 2020, however it re-imposed the curfew on in the districts of Colombo, Puttalam, and Gampaha and districts in the north of Sri Lanka until 0600 am Friday 27. (Colombo/Mar23/2020)