Grocery stores roll out time windows for vulnerable shoppers

Coronavirus

Whole Foods, Safeway and Albertsons take initiatives with vulnerable people in mind

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — In the midst of the coronavirus outbreak, some grocery stores have set a specific time window for vulnerable shoppers to get their groceries.

Whole Foods, Safeway and Albertsons have all allotted separate shopping time for those who need it most. Whole Foods are inviting customers who are 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.

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

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These measures are being taken after stores were essentially getting cleaned out by customers in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak. As the effects of the coronavirus pandemic continue to ripple through everyday life, people are flocking to the grocery stores to stock up on all variety of paper products, hand soap, hand sanitizers, vitamins and flu medicine, cereals and milk.

A Safeway spokesperson told KOIN 6 News by phone it seemed like the right thing to do.

“Our thinking is these couple hours our stores will be fully stocked from the night before, there will be less people in the stores while they are shopping. Social distancing will be a little easier.”

She said, “We won’t be asking for proof from anyone. There is no enforcement. We are just really asking our shoppers to help our community with this special request.”

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.”

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

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