Stores create ‘elderly-only’ hours as coronavirus spreads in the US

(NEW YORK) — As Americans self-isolate and follow health officials’ guidelines to stay away from large crowds amid the continued coronavirus emergency, many grocery stores have adjusted to make sure elderly and immunocompromised patrons can shop safely during a designated time in an attempt to mitigate their risk of exposure to the virus.

From national chains to smaller retailers, companies have taken additional precautions to ensure the safety of their potentially vulnerable customers.

Check out the list of stores below and be sure to call or check store hours online for adjusted hours at specific locations.

Target

The company announced reduced store hours and said it will “reserve the first hour of shopping each Wednesday to support vulnerable guests, including the elderly and those with underlying health concerns.”

We’re so proud of our Target teams working to keep stores open for guests during this challenging time. Read about our latest efforts, including new reduced store hours to add time for cleaning & restocking, & dedicated shopping time for vulnerable guests: https://t.co/8sAyrJ9e56

— Target (@Target) March 17, 2020

Whole Foods Market

The Austin-based national grocery chain announced that starting today, its U.S. and Canada stores “will service customers who are 60 and older one hour before opening to the public.”

Important Update to Store Hours. For information on your store, please visit https://t.co/dxzcZkw1wy. pic.twitter.com/j469cHZ0Le

— Whole Foods Market (@WholeFoods) March 18, 2020

Starting on Thursday, March 19, all Whole Foods Market stores in the U.K. will service customers who are 70 and older one hour before opening to the public.

Stop and Shop

The grocery store announced Monday that “people ages 60 and up can use a designated entrance, which will be marked at their local store, from 6:00am-7:30am.”

“Although we will not be requesting ID for entry, we ask that you please respect the purpose of the early opening – and do the right thing for your neighbors,” Stop and Shop said in a statement. “Store associates do reserve the right to ask customers to leave if they are not a member of this age group.”

Fairway

Starting March 18 until further notice, from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m., Fairway will open to those 65 and older, those with increased susceptibility to serious illness, and expecting mothers, the company said in a press release.

We're happy to be able to help customers with social distancing in any way we can right now. That's why we're promoting our mobile checkout app to our customers more than ever to help make shopper experience as smooth as possible. https://t.co/sUOzbSkTSn via @grocerydive

— Fairway Market (@FairwayMarket) March 17, 2020

Food Town

Food Town announced it would also adjust its hours as the country faces COVID-19. “To help support the shopping needs of the elderly in our community, effective March 17, 2020, we will open our doors from 7 – 8 a.m. to allow those ages 65 and older to shop in a less crowded environment. Access to the store at this time will require a government-issued state ID or Texas driver’s license,” the announcement read.

The idea has caught on in other countries as well with supermarket chain Wooworths in Australia implementing the tactic for its customers.

We’re launching a dedicated shopping hour in our stores to help support the needs of the elderly & people with disability in the community. From tomorrow until at least friday, we’ll be opening exclusively for them to shop from 7-8am, where permitted.

— Woolworths (@woolworths) March 15, 2020

DeCicco & Sons

The small Northeastern supermarket chain said it will “have special shopping times every morning from 8:00 AM to 8:30 AM reserved for our senior (65+) customers and immunocompromised families who must shop in store.”

Ultimately, the store highly recommends ordering online or having someone shop for them, when possible.

View this post on Instagram

Effective Monday, March 16, 2020, we will have special shopping times every morning from 8:00 AM to 8:30 AM reserved for our senior (65+) customers and immunocompromised families who must shop in store. However, if possible, we still highly recommend ordering online at shop.deciccos.com or having someone shop for you. We ask all customers to respect this time and begin regular shopping at 8:30 AM. We will monitor this during the week, make any adjustments needed, and post all new updates to Facebook. We will also modify our hours to allow extra time for our team members to restock and fully clean our stores. Monday through Saturday 8:00 AM-8:00 PM (8:00 AM-8:30 AM limited access) Sunday 8:00AM-7:00PM (8:00AM-8:30AM limited access) Thank you for your understanding as we work hard to serve your needs!

A post shared by DeCicco & Sons (@deciccos) on Mar 15, 2020 at 6:49pm PDT

In addition to store hours, many grocers are reminding customers to take advantage of app-based purchasing to lower physical contact and have urged the use of online and delivery orders.

Dr. Delaram J. Taghipour, a resident in the ABC News medical unit, highlighted the importance of the social distancing practice for this age group.

“We believe that allowing the elderly and those who are immunocompromised to access grocery stores away from the worried well gives them a chance to adhere to public social distancing to optimally protect themselves,” Taghipour said.

Additionally, Taghipour said that with stores with crowds “include thousands if not millions of asymptomatic or mild symptom having COVID-19 carriers.”

“While they may not be intending to spread the virus, they likely are, and the elderly and immunocompromised are the most vulnerable,” Taghipour explained. “The elderly may need more time to get around — and most importantly have been shown to get more severe disease and be at higher risk for death.”

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