BEVERLY — Mayor Mike Cahill has announced a plan for residents to “stagger” their food shopping based on which ward they live in.

In a recorded phone call to residents, Cahill asked people to voluntarily limit their trips to the supermarket to twice a week starting on Wednesday in an effort to prevent overcrowding during the coronavirus epidemic.

Cahill suggested that residents in wards one or two food shop on this Wednesday and/or Saturday; in wards three or four on this Thursday and/or Sunday; and in wards five or six on this Friday and/or Monday.

“We’re just looking for a way to space out the shopping a bit,” Cahill said in an interview. “We want to see if we can help mitigate against too many people in the store at the same time and the long lines. It’s tough to keep that six-foot distance when that’s going on.”

Cahill said the plan is voluntary and that he’s hoping as many people as possible will limit their grocery shopping to those days. If senior citizens, who have been offered exclusive early-shopping hours at some grocery stores, want to go on another day, that is no problem, he said.

Cahill also announced that school breakfasts and lunches will now be offered twice a week, on Tuesday and Friday, rather than five days a week, to reduce the risk of spreading the COVID-19 virus. On each of those days, children will receive breakfast and lunch for three days, he said.

The meals will be distributed between 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. at Beverly High School, and between 11:30 a.m. and noon at Apple Village and Holcroft Park.

Cahill said the plan “will allow us to continue to provide our students with meals but limit exposure of students, families and our staff.”

Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2535 or pleighton@salemnews.com.

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