I work full-time as a supermarket cashier and the last week has been exhausting and overwhelming for all of us.
Once the news broke that schools were to close, hundreds of people flooded into the shop. This crush of people was truly frightening,especially given the WHO recommendations on social distancing and the easily transmissible nature of the corona virus. Along with my co-workers I felt very vulnerable.
I would urge customers to consider their purchases with more care.
There is no need for panic buying when there is, in fact, plenty of stock. At the same time it makes no sense to expose oneself and others by making small purchases on numerous occasions.
Try to plan your meals so that you only have to shop, say, twice a week, in order to avoid waste and limit community exposure. For example, there is no need for people to wander around to buy a couple of bars of chocolate.
Many people will be working from home or on leave from work, please, don’t come to the shops unnecessarily to relieve your boredom.
Although we wear gloves at the checkout we have no other protective equipment; we are exposed to hundreds of people a day.
Grocery stores, like pharmacies, are essential services and must stay open, but this doesnot mean “business as normal”.
Small things can help us all be safe: try to maintain a distance of about 1m between yourself, other customers and the cashier. Use contactles sor credit/debit card payments to reduce the need for cashiers to handle cash.
Please don’t put cash, loyalty cards, debit cards, etc, in your mouth (yes, that happens) and then expect cashiers to touch them.
Sanitise your hands when you enter the store, clean your trolley or basket before you use it, sanitise your hands again when you leave, and wash your hands thoroughly when you get home.
Do not go shopping if you feel unwell and be mindful that there is always the possibility that you might have corona virus and have yet to show any symptoms.
It has been heartening to see that most parents have been responsible and understood the danger to the community and not brought their children into the shop.
Many customers have been kind and said that we are brave and that they appreciate us working away in such circumstances. Their words and thoughts mean so much.
The government needs to put in place protection for supermarket workers who are necessary for society to function.
There should be smaller numbers of customers allowed into the shop at one time, there should be a queuing system outside.
I think this should be regulated by the authorities and implemented as soon as possible. The crowds in pubs were tiny compared to the crush of people in the shop.
This readers' opinion will be published in the letters page of the Irish Examiner print edition on March 17, 2020