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Grand opening causes concern in Longview, residents want more precautions against COVID-19

Local News

LONGVIEW, Texas (KETK)- Video of Ollie’s Bargain Store in Longview has gone viral. In the social media posts, residents point to the crowded parking lot during the grand opening, worried people are not taking precautions against COVID-19 seriously.

“We are supposed to be social distancing and the whole parking lots full. I mean you can’t be six feet away from each other with that many people in the store,” said TJ Buchanan, one resident who is concerned by the number of people crowding into stores.

Many people question if the bargain store should be considered an “essential business.”

“People are not taking it seriously. That one person who could have the virus, you don’t know if they have it or not, they could come and just give it to everybody,” said Dakota Jennings, another concerned resident.

The grand opening comes after Gregg County officials declared a mandatory shelter-at-home order on March 25.

“This is a real threat to this community, take personal responsibility. I’ve been amazed at people who continue to go around like this isn’t in our community like this isn’t going to touch us,” said Gregg County Judge Bill Stoudt.

While parking lots are seeing fewer and fewer vehicles, city officials say business should continue, but with safety as the top priority.

“The goal is not to shut down the economy, but to slow the spread…but must adhere to the guidelines to slow the spread, 10 people in a room six feet apart,” said Longview Mayor Andy Mack, in a press conference last week.

The bargain store released a statement online about the policies to combat the coronavirus:

  • Cleaning high traffic areas like cash registers and credit card machines more often
  • Sanitizing restrooms frequently
  • Periodically wiping down shopping carts and baskets

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