Grocers ‘senior shopping’ times help social distancing


Safeway, Albertsons, Whole Foods offering special times

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — What we know about the coronavirus is that it affects seniors and those with underlying health conditions more adversely. Because there’s no immunity to it, social distancing is now the new normal.

But everyone needs to eat.

Thursday was the first day Safeway and Albertsons have all allotted separate shopping time for those who need it most.

Albertsons and Safeway chains will reserve every Tuesday and Thursday from 7-9 a.m. for vulnerable shoppers — seniors, pregnant women, those with compromised immune systems and other at-risk populations — who need to leave home to obtain their groceries.

On Wednesday, Whole Foods began inviting customers 60-and-older to begin their shopping one hour before the store opens to the general public. Whole Foods has also temporarily adjusted their store hours.

Safeway spokesperson Jill McGinnis told KOIN 6 News they’re not asking for proof from anyone, but instead asking shoppers to help the community with this special request.

A sign at at Safeway store in Southwest Portland during the coronavirus pandemic, March 18, 2020 (KOIN)

“We’re thanking all of our customers for their compassion and understanding right now and their support of these temporary guidelines,” she said. “The good news is there is no shortage of groceries. There’s plenty of goods and food in the supply chain, and we don’t anticipate that will change.”

McGinnis said the first day seemed to go well. Safeway workers are also taking extra precautions by sanitizing each and every basket and grocery cart.

Complete KOIN 6 News coverage: Coronavirus

‘A great idea’

Dr. Esther Choo from OHSU said these moves by the community are critical.

“Allowing a time and space where older shoppers can do their errands and allow them to feel more safe and social distance from younger people is a great idea,” Dr. Choo said. “The walking well that are carriers of the disease that are spreading it, those are going to be younger people. I think older people are going to be more vulnerable to feeling the affects of the virus getting really ill and landing in the hospital.”

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