The closure of Albertsons Market due to COVID-19 and limits placed on the number of people who may be inside at a given time has prompted long lines at Carlsbad supermarkets this week.
The New Mexico Environment Department closed Albertsons for two weeks starting Wednesday due to an increased number of COVID-19 cases reported.
Wednesday Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham tightened some regulations on a public health order limiting the number of people inside an essential business.
“These entities may operate but must reduce operations and staff to the greatest extent possible; may have no more than 75 customers inside or exceed 25 percent of maximum occupancy at any time, whichever is smaller; and must close by 10 p.m. each night,” part of the public health order read.
Scores of people waited outside La Tienda Thriftway and the Walmart Supercenter Friday waiting to get in and shop for groceries. Both are still in business after the closure of Albertsons.
George De La Cerda waited patiently in line at La Tienda at 1301 South Canal and said he shops at the three supermarkets in Carlsbad looking for the best deals.
Read More:Will Carlsbad Albertsons stay closed for two weeks?
De La Cerda had empathy for Albertsons employees.
“I feel for their families out of work. We need another store,” he said.
Pamela Hinojos was just a few steps away from De La Cerda.
“If I need something I come here. People have no choice,” she said.
Hinojos finds the prices at La Tienda reasonable and she said all supermarkets should be open, despite the pandemic.
“I know they should have all these places open,” she said.
Hinojos added the state didn’t give people much notice when Albertsons was ordered to close Wednesday.
Keep reading:Carlsbad Mayor: Making the case to keep Albertsons open amid COVID-19
“How are we going to prepare? We need some time and some help. How are we going to make it?” she said. “There are people that are struggling.”
Barbara Smith was in the back of the line of the Walmart Supercenter Friday morning.
“It sucks. You gotta come out here and stand in line for two hours,” she said.
Smith, who is a regular Walmart customer, didn’t agree with the Albertsons shutdown.
“I don’t think they should have done it,” she said. “Four (COVID-19) cases is not a reason to close a whole store.”
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Originally from South Carolina, Smith has lived in Carlsbad for eight years and was hopeful Walmart had the items she was looking for.
“I pray they do. That way I don’t have to come back. I go in and shop for a week and do it again next week,” she said.
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“The citizens of our communities will be grateful for any intervention that you may be able to accomplish. Thank you for all that you do in serving our communities,” the letter added.
Geoff Freeman, president and CEO of the Consumer Brands Association, sent a letter to Lujan Grisham asking her to keep stores open across New Mexico.
“The United States Department of Homeland Security clearly identified the businesses and individuals that are essential to serving their fellow Americans. New Mexico is attempting to reinvent the wheel and, in doing so, blatantly violating common sense recommendations. This isn’t about luxuries, it’s about essentials. Manufacturing facilities that produce essential products – and the retailers that sell those products – have gone to extraordinary lengths to protect their workforce, and they must stay open throughout this crisis. New Mexico’s approach will create unnecessary panic,” he said in a statement.
“We respectfully request that you consider alternative measures to the current enforcement policy that allow essential businesses to continue operations and ensure that all New Mexicans have access to these important products. Mandatory 14-day shutdowns of essential businesses, regardless of their adherence to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other public health department guidelines, will interfere with critical infrastructure activities that are integral to public health and safety,” Freeman said in his letter.
Mike Smith can be reached at 575-628-5546 or by email at MSmith@currentargus.com or @ArgusMichae on Twitter.