Local shoppers flood grocery stores, avoid local restaurants

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Grocery store shelves are being cleaned out by metro shoppers amid rising fear over the coronavirus pandemic.

Data pix.

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Frantic shoppers filled the checkout lines at grocery stores throughout the metro Friday afternoon, with carts full to the brim.

“I was really surprised, one, by how many people were shopping and how cleaned out things already are,” said Marla Lobo, a local shopper.

Cleaned out it was, with toilet paper aisles wiped clean as employees worked hard to restock the shelves. Some shelves had signs showing limits on the amount of a certain item a customer could buy. One employee said they are having to restock items like water constantly amid growing concerns of the coronavirus in the state, after this afternoon’s declaration of a national emergency.

“I think that if people will just stay calm, it will be okay,” Lobo said.

Shoppers like Marla Lobo said they are not too worried. Others, like Bruce Carnes, are grocery shopping to get what he and his wife can.

We’re trying to be smart about it. We don’t want to get caught with no food,” Carnes said. “So, we loaded up and we’ll hunker down in our home.”

All of the chaos in the grocery stores, as well as from fear of the coronavirus and large gatherings, have caused local restaurants to feel the pinch.

“We’ve definitely seen a steady decline in just reservations,” said Carlos Martinez, the culinary director at Osteria in Nichols Hills.

According to Oklahoma restaurant association president Jim Hopper, “It’s a time of uncertainty for many people in Oklahoma during the coronavirus issue.”

"You are kind of feeling the effects of what would have been our early turn, isn't really an early turn,” said Martinez, showing empty tables in his restaurant.

Now, Martinez said they have been forced to stress to customers that they are remaining clean inside, having staff constantly wash their hands and wipe down tables.

"It seems rudimentary, but it's things that if you think, 'Hey, if we did these things all the time we would be alright,'” he said.

Martinez hopes reservations will start flowing into the restaurant again.

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