ABOUT 25 staff members were kept inside Pennywise on Charlotte Street, Port of Spain, for several hours on Wednesday morning after public health officials closed the store because of a covid19 scare.
Sources told Newsday at about 7.30 am, public health officers told staff they might have come in contact with someone who may have contracted the virus on Tuesday.
Later on security staff were seen turning away customers.
Pennywise CEO Dalvi Paladee told Newsday they may have been exposed to a secondary contact of a covid19 patient. He said a friend of someone who had contracted the virus may have entered the Charlotte Street branch and the Long Circular Mall branch, which was also shut on Wednesday morning for sanitisation.
A release from Pennywise on Facebook said the person who went into the store still had not been confirmed positive for the virus.
Paladee, in an interview with Newsday, said all necessary precautions were taken to ensure staff members were protected.
“We have masks and hand sanitiser from day one, we make it a protocol to wipe down every basket and all surfaces. Cashiers make it a practice to wipe down surfaces every time a customer leaves.
"We are protecting our staff first, and we have never let down those guards,” Paladee said.
Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh confirmed that Pennywise branches on Charlotte Street, and Long Circular Mall, as well as First Citizens' San Juan branch, had been closed to be sanitised owing to suspected exposure to covid19. He was speaking at the Ministry of Health's virtual press conference on Wednesday morning.
Newsday spoke briefly to Dexter Charles, First Citizens' manager of corporate communications, who confirmed that the ATM room of the San Juan branch had been closed for sanitisation and later reopened.
He said the bank was told the ATM section might have been exposed to someone with the virus and was advised to close the ATM and sanitise it.
Newsday was told public health officials are expected to return to test people inside the Pennywise store.