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You don’t have to stay at home; yes, you can get take-out; but retail is changing, and we need to give stores time to adjust

OPINION

BY JENNIFER CABRERA

Many questions are swirling about the stay-at-home order that went into effect at midnight today.

No, you don’t have to stay at home.

The intent of the order was to close “non-essential” businesses and limit the number of customers at “essential” businesses so that people would have fewer places to go and reasons to go out. But you don’t have to stay in your house.

Specifically, it’s fine to go outside and exercise, and it’s fine to go get take-out (if you were still comfortable getting take-out yesterday, please continue to do so!), along with using any of the other “essential” services that you may need. It’s important, of course, to maintain social distancing and do all the other things we’ve been asked to do to reduce transmission of the virus. But it’s also important to support local businesses as much as we can.

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Given the lines that have been reported outside of grocery stores this morning, I’m working to get information about how we will all get groceries when only a few people can be in the store at any given time. Alachua County Commission Chair Robert Hutchinson said yesterday that we’ve all had plenty of time to prepare, but the fact is that we were instructed not to stock up because grocery stores would stay open. Ok, fine, they’re open, but you can’t just run into a store and get a few things any more. It has now become a matter of standing in line for your turn to enter the store, and the stores are no longer open during the early-morning and late-evening times that once were a haven for people who wanted to avoid crowds.

The best thing to do right now is trust that retailers like Publix and Walmart will adjust. There are plenty of unemployed people who can be hired as delivery workers, and with fewer people in the stores, the inventories should recover. If you have enough supplies to avoid shopping for a few days to a week, please do so.

If you have questions about what is and isn’t allowed (again, the most recent order is more of a restriction on businesses than on personal behavior), put them in the comments below, and we’ll try to get answers.

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