I grew up hearing about people standing in line for food in Eastern Bloc countries and how certain products were rationed due to the inability of suppliers to meet demand. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine I would be standing in one of those lines here in America. But there I was on Saturday, doing just that.

Barry Richard/Townsquare Media

Not only is it intimidating to stand in line for food and other basic supplies I have come to take for granted throughout my life, but to have the police at the front of the line to regulate compliance with the rules and to keep order was even more intimidating. This is the new norm, at least for now anyway, during the time of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Barry Richard/Townsquare Media

By restricting the number of people allowed in the market at any one time, the experience was more pleasant than my previous visit in that the aisles were not clogged and checkout lines moved more freely. The overall experience was every bit as surreal, however, as many shoppers donned gloves and assorted styles of face masks.

The shelves at Market Basket in New Bedford were better stocked this time than the last, though there were still items missing such as toilet paper and most forms of disinfectant products. The meat counter appeared to be fully stocked but for some reason, I couldn't find green onions over in produce. Friends texted from other markets where they were unable to find paper towels and certain meat products.

And now as the so-called apex of the outbreak is said to be near, the health experts are warning to avoid the markets altogether unless a visit is essential.

While the thought that all of this is necessary for the health of our nation and its people is still foremost in my mind, I cannot help but worry about how quickly and easily we have surrendered so many of our basic freedoms, when we might reclaim them, and at what cost.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at barry@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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