Eveni Carruthers' quarantine approach to retail
The Eveni Carruthers Company is taking a new approach to retail in the time of the coronavirus: it is open for business but customers will be allowed in one at a time.
Customers are offered hand sanitiser upon entry and those waiting in line must wait a designated distance apart from each other - space which is marked on the floor.
Reminders to comply with the new measures are repeated on the store's sound system.
Hand sanitiser, face masks and gloves are worn by all store employees.
In response to questions from the Samoa Observer, the store's Coordinator, Lisa Vaai, said that ensuring their employees' safety as well as lessening the spread of the virus is their main priority.
“We are also trying to cut down as much as possible contact when serving our customers through a controlled entry into our store from the front, side and back entrances," she said.
Eveni will revert back to retail shopping normality when Samoa is considered safe from the virus for both employees and customers but is preparing for a drawn out period of isolation.
The company said it has in place plans for closure and steps to help their employees and families during the Government-declared state of emergency which is in effect for 14 days, including funding for employees in the event of a prolonged shutdown and even the store’s closure if it becomes necessary.
Currently, over 50 people are employed at Eveni and its branches around Samoa.
The coronavirus-led downturn will have a significant impact, Ms. Vaai said.
“Now that we are in a nation wide lock down, we are expecting further restrictions which will severely affect our sales," she said.
“However, this is a nation wide case and we will do whatever is needed to bring this terrible virus under control in our country.
“We have learned from the long history of our company that to survive we have to be prepared to make hard and sometimes unpleasant decisions to get over the crisis.
“If it is necessary to protect our team and customers, we will do it or when the state of emergency declares a closure of our stores.
"We will fully support the Government emergency declarations so that we can all help to bring this virus under control in Samoa."
Eveni Carruthers is Samoa’s most renowned fashion retailer. It was founded in 1929.
Despite the relatively onerous conditions, plenty of customers could be seen lining up outside the store in the heat to shop under the new conditions.
One New Zealand based Samoans amongst the customers yesterday, Sharley Amituanai, said the suspected coronavirus case worries her.
“I mean who wouldn’t be but today might be my last day in town then I’ll stay home to wait for my flight back to New Zealand which kept delaying,” she laughed.
“But I support what the employees of Eveni are doing.
“I mean it’s better safe than sorry. It’s just sad because I don’t know how I’m going to pick the nicest elei (design) since I haven’t even been inside I just learned from social media about them but I don’t know much.”
Some outside the entrances, turned up to buy their children’s school uniforms.
Eveni urged Samoa to stay safe.
“We are going through highly uncertain times and we have to be prepared to adjust and roll with the punches even by the hour. We are planning along these lines. We also wish everyone stays safe and healthy," Ms. Vaai said.
A young woman who was the country's first suspected coronavirus patient is currently at the national hospital.
Confirmatory testing is currently underway in New Zealand. On Thursday the Health Ministry said it expected testing to be completed within three to five days.