Eureka Springs and Holiday Island grocery stores have adopted procedures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 among their employees and customers while continuing to provide vital food and supplies needed by residents.
“We are frequently wiping our registers and high-traffic areas with sanitizer,” said Sunfest Market Assistant Manager Stephanie Dzindolet. “We are wearing gloves and have hand sanitizer at every register. Employees are required to wash their hands before and after every break, and before they eat.”
As of now, there is no curbside pickup for people who want to avoid going into the store. But the grocery store has started opening at 6 a.m. for seniors. That is an hour earlier than when Sunfest usually opens.
“We have seen a lot of panic shopping,” Dzindolet said. “We are limiting purchases so we don’t run out of things. Our warehouse is limiting us on how much we can order per store, but we are fairly well stocked. We are running out of paper products very quickly. Just bear with us all that work here or any of the grocery stores because we are doing the best that we can.”
Hart’s Family Center in Eureka Springs has also instituted a senior hour on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays to help those most at risk avoid exposure. It won’t be mandatory, younger people won’t be turned away, but seniors are encouraged to shop between 7:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. those three days of the week.
“We are asking everyone else to kind of stay away those hours just for their health and to keep our senior people safe,” Hart’s General Manager Jay Galyen said. “And we have procedures in place to keep our checkers safe. All customers are asked to stand behind a certain point while groceries being checked out. Then the checker steps back for payment to come about.”
Hart’s has also been taking steps like sanitizing registers frequently. Sanitizing wipes are available, as always, near shopping carts for people to cleanse the handles.
Hart’s had reported panic shopping a week ago but has since seen some relief.
“We do have toilet paper now,” Galyen said. “I was just looking on Facebook and someone was griping about the price we had on our toilet paper at $2 per roll. I’m selling that at cost. It is single rolls with no paper tube inside that contains twice as much paper as a regular roll. It is a commercial product and it was what we could get.”
Galyen urged unity and patience.
“It takes all of us working together in this town,” he said. “I’ve been saying that for years. That’s how I feel.”
Cravings Bakery next to Hart’s is providing meals to children who, since school has been cancelled, don’t have the availability of the free or reduced school breakfast and lunch programs.
The Flint Street Fellowship is continuing to provide food from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays. Participants are being greeted at the front door from six feet away. Volunteers prepare bags of groceries which they deliver curbside.
The Cup of Love Ministry has stopped serving hot meals Monday through Friday and Sunday, but is accepting telephone calls for food and filling bags and placing them outside for pickup. Chuck Jarrett said he has enough pantry food to last a couple of weeks.
Eureka Market, (479) 253-8136, is doing curbside pickups of orders on Mondays and Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to noon. They were hoping to move to online ordering for the curbside pickup soon.
The Oriental and Farm Fresh Market is limiting customers to one at a time in the store and is offering curbside pickup by calling ahead to (479) 363-6086. The store carries locally grown produce and other products.
The City of Eureka Springs is advising that scammers and imposters are starting to surface including someone calling businesses claiming to be from the mayor’s office and telling them they should close. The city recommends getting reliable local information by going to the city website: cityofeurekasprings.us.
Holiday Island Suburban Improvement District Manager Lawrence Blood said HISID has implemented measures to keep the public and employees safe.
“The most important thing here is for HISID to continue to provide public services and the only way to do that is to keep everyone, including our employees, as safe as possible,” Blood said. “So, we have implemented measures for both the public and internally. At Holiday Island, there has been unbelievable compliance to stop the spread.”
Holiday Island is largely a retirement community with many residents in the age groups at the greatest risk for complications from COVID-19. Anyone who lives alone or has underlying health conditions can call the HISID office at (479) 253-9600 and ask for check-in calls from the Community Emergency Response Team. Every few days a CERT volunteer will call to see how they are doing.
Indoor activities have been cancelled for now, but the golf course grill has started offering home delivery and is considering expanding the hours of operation.
There have been varying individual responses to the COVID-19 threat. Some people are voluntarily doing self-quarantining while others are following the lead of President Trump and going about business as usual because they think the threat has been overstated. One resident of Holiday Island is urging people to be careful.
“This is now a serious issue and I can attest to that firsthand,” the businessman said. “I recently returned from a six-day business trip in India with a small layover in London and now am under mandatory 21-day quarantine in my home. I cannot have visitors or open my door for deliveries and have to order all my groceries online, which are in very short supply and grossly overpriced due to the panic shopping. Two in my party of 12 have now tested positive. Thus far I am negative but must retest again in fourteen days.
“I am so frustrated with people going out and placing others at risk. I personally underestimated the impact as well, but once you have a dear colleague of yours on a ventilator, it changes your entire perspective. Trust me when I say you do not want to live with the guilt and shame of placing another human being’s existence in jeopardy. The danger is real and it is here!”