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Super Value boss says masks were offered to government, not seized

The Nassau Guardian April 13, 2020

Paige McCartney

Super Value owner Rupert Roberts today said a viral email stating that the government seized a container load of face masks intended for Super Value employees is “fake news” and absolutely untrue.

Roberts said all of his approximately 1,000 employees have been given face masks.

“There’s not a mask problem in Super Value. In fact, if a vendor comes in to stock and they don’t have a mask we give them a mask and put a mask on them. Nobody is allowed in the store without masks,” he said.

“I would say that we have access to 18,000. But I think this is a non-story that is emanating from fake news.”

The email that circulated over the holiday weekend claimed that on Monday, April 6 the government seized $176,000 worth of masks.

Roberts confirmed, however, to The Guardian that a few weeks ago he ordered masks and knowing the needs of healthcare professionals on the frontline, he offered some of the masks he imported to the Ministry of Health.

“I heard that the ministry may have been short, so we have an excellent relationship with [Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands]. So I said, ‘Dr. Sands, I’ve got a 120,000 through; do you need any?’ He said, ‘We’d be glad [to have] them.’ So, I said, You take 100,000 and we’ll keep 20,000,’” he said.

“When the 480 cases came, I sent them straight to the ministry because half of those girls in the front lines went to the supermarkets on the way to the job market and I know those nurses and I wanted to make sure that they were secure and I wanted to make sure that our staff were secure.

“There’s no point in the public going to the hospital and the nurses don’t have masks. We’re all in this war and are fighting the enemy together. I don’t like this enemy. It’s very deadly.”

When contacted for comment, Sands confirmed adding, “He has been unbelievably supportive, he has been an incredible corporate citizen and volunteered to help us. We didn’t call him, he called us and asked how he can help. He has been more than helpful and is actively working to help us acquire more.”

Countries around the world, including the United States, which manufactures masks, have reported shortages in medical grade masks for frontline workers.

Last week, the prime minister announced new changes under the Emergency Powers (COVID-19) (No.2)(Amendment), that require every person who leaves their residence to wear a mask covering their nose and mouth while away from their residence.

The prime minister also announced a ban on the importation of non-medical protective face masks.

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