Customers leave the Sunkiss supermarket on SS Erin Road Philippine, San Fernando, yesterday, after police officers shut down the supermarket. Rishi Ragoonath

While police ushered customers out of supermarkets ahead of yesterday’s 10 am commencement of curfew, Supermarkets Association (SATT) president Rajiv Diptee lauded his 250-plus membership for remaining closed.

Following Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s announcement on Saturday that government would amend the hours of curfew for the Indian Arrival Day and Corpus Christi holidays, SATT stated that it would remain closed. Diptee said members decided to stand in solidarity with the country’s fight against COVID-19, which allows its staff to rest and reflect.

“The pantries of the nation’s kitchens were very full. The reality is when you close the supermarkets on the public holiday, if not for the pandemic, only some would be open half-day or have much tighter hours. We find that in no way this has inconvenienced people. It was a responsible move, and we wanted to show that we care about the country, our customers and our staff, who are appreciative that we are not about putting profits first,” Diptee said.

But Southern Division police shut down several supermarkets shortly after 8 am. Snr Supt Lucia Winchester confirmed that the officers acted on instructions.

Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith cited Regulations 3, 4, and 14 of the Emergency Powers Regulations for the move to close the supermarkets.

Diptee said the supermarkets that opened were not members of the SATT. He said SATT members adhere to a high moral and social responsibility. Given the logistics of opening for a few hours, Diptee said it was unfortunate that some supermarkets did.

Meanwhile, Anand Low Price Supermarket, which is not a SATT member, initially advertised business hours of 6 am-9 am for the holiday. However, this generated negative feedback from members of the public, who accused the company of not caring about its workers.

But Chelsea Ramnarine Singh, director of the Anand Low Price Group of Companies, said management planned to open after asking workers if they wanted to, as they would receive overtime pay for the holiday. The company was also providing transportation for the reduced staff. However, Ramnarine Singh said that after viewing Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi’s media conference on Sunday, the company realised that it had to close.

She said the group’s Planet Care Pharmacy in Debe closed at 9 am, allowing the workers, who live in the area, to reach home on time.