Black Friday draws long lines in Racine, even as health officials tighten COVID-19 orders

Posted at 11:05 AM, Nov 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-27 14:09:24-05

RACINE — The coronavirus pandemic did not stop Black Friday shoppers from lining up outside of stores on the day after Thanksgiving.

In Racine, people camped outside of a GameStop setting up lawn chairs and tents.

One man, Jeremiah Diblasio, said he waited 36 hours to be first in line for a PlayStation 5. Other shoppers said they waited upwards of 4 and 5 hours.

Staff members were working to maintain social distancing in the line and inside the store.

Gaming Counsels like the PlayStation 5 (PS5), XBOX Series X and Nintendo Switch were drawing crowds in the middle of the ongoing pandemic.

"There is anxiety," said Carmen Ayers, Black Friday Shopper who said she arrived at GameStop on Wednesday night. She brought a lawn chair and blanket with her, and sat tight until the doors opened, acknowledging the fact that community spread of the coronavirus was still a risk to her health. "I have been in a bubble this whole time, and today is not the day, especially not for electronics, so that’s why I brought the chair so that I could distance."

The lines at GameStop and at several other retailers grew on the same day that the City of Racine's "Safer Racine" health order was modified.

Tighter restrictions in Racine include a 50% capacity limit at retail establishments and a 25% capacity limit at Bars and Restaurants.

The city's public health administrator, in a statement about the modifications, pointed to Black Friday as part of the reason why the restrictions are being modified now.

“Since the onset of the pandemic, after every major holiday, significant spikes in positive cases occur because individuals are not taking the personal responsibility to abide by best practices to ensure that they and others do not contract the virus," said Dottie-Kay Bowersox. " Given that, the Public Health Department full expects to see a sharp increase in cases yet again between Thanksgiving, "Black Friday", Christmas and the New Year."

Employees at GameStop were adjusting to the new rules.

"It’s a challenge, but I mean we're just trying to do the best that we can, trying to keep people apart, try to keep people one at a time, and just keep it rolling so that people aren’t lingering or touching and stuff," said Alex Andersen, a Game Adviser for the retail store.

Only a few shoppers were successful in finding the deals they waited for.

"I got it," said Jeremiah Diblasio as he exited the shop just before the game consoles sold out at that particular location.

As the systems sold out, the lines disappeared. Customers went on the hunt from store to store all morning long.

"They sold out so we came to Best Buy to see what's going on," said Jeremiah Suber, another Black Friday Shopper who traveled from Kenosha to Racine looking for a PS5.

Customers say they waited in long lines and decided to shop in person because some of the electronics were difficult to find online. They say Bots buy up stock, so they were hoping to have better luck finding gaming consoles at the stores.

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