Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said Monday grocery stores will continue to be stocked in the midst of the novel coronavirus outbreak, and he urged people to remain calm and avoid hoarding.
“Grace under pressure, that’s what I’m asking of this city during this tough time,” Garcetti said at a Ralphs supermarket distribution center in Paramount. “Let me be clear, supply chains are completely uninterrupted, and there’s no shortage of food. So I’m imploring Angelenos not to over-buy, not to panic-buy.”
Garcetti said people should buy food and supplies for a week, but stocking up for months is detrimental to trying to rid the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. He said paper towels and toilet paper — which have been stripped from the shelves by consumers — will be replenished quickly, but items such as hand sanitizers could take weeks to receive.
“If you’re sitting on a big cache of those things, please be considerate of those who also need to be sanitary and to maintain their work in stopping the spread of coronavirus,” the mayor said. “Hoarding is hurting our community, so please don’t do that, and your behavior isn’t just bad, it could cost somebody their life.”
The mayor also reiterated that water and power will continue to be supplied throughout the city.
Kendra Doyle of Ralphs said the supermarket chain is going to hire more people to meet the recent demands and to employ people in the food industry who have been affected by the coronavirus outbreak.
Bryan Kaltenbach, president of the supermarket chain Food 4 Less, said he was proud of what product manufacturers have been able to do in the midst of the outbreak and straining demands, and he also called for people to use moderation when purchasing essentials.
“There is plenty of product. It’s just a matter of getting the supply chain caught up from the amount of purchases that have occurred,” Kaltenbach said, adding that employees are sanitizing the stores constantly. “Try to be prudent in the amount of products you’re buying at one setting. Allow us to get caught up. But the industry is strong, the food supply is strong.”
The Anaheim-based Northgate Gonzales Market chain announced that beginning Tuesday, and continuing indefinitely, it will open all of its 41 stores in Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego and Riverside counties one hour early for senior citizens and disabled customers to shop from 7 to 8 a.m.
The company’s stores will remain open for the general public from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
“We recognize the challenge facing seniors and other at-risk populations and we need to address them by providing them an opportunity to shop for essentials without fear or trepidation,” said Northgate Co-President Miguel Gonzalez.
“Just as Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said on Monday, we ask younger shoppers to allow seniors to step in front of the lines, so they get in and out as soon as possible,” he said.
Garcetti was joined Monday morning by Oscar Gonzalez, co-president and COO of Northgate Gonzalez Market; Melissa Hill, director of community relations and government affairs at Albertsons; and Rob McDougall, president and CEO of Gelson’s Markets.
Garcetti signed an executive order Sunday directing bars, wineries, clubs, gyms, bowling alleys, arcades and movie theaters to close until March 31. Libraries, recreations centers and zoos are also closed, as the city tries to rid itself of the virus through social distancing and self-quarantines.