Bay Area grocery stores and others are beginning to do their part in allowing senior citizens to shop free and clear of younger people who could be infected with the coronavirus.
Whole Foods, Safeway, and Albertsons made announcements late Tuesday and early Wednesday about instituting new shopping windows that will be exclusively available to senior citizens, as well as those who may be at high risk for the virus. Marin County public health officials issued a directive on Wednesday asking all grocery and retail stores to designate similar hours for seniors.
Whole Foods said in a statement that shoppers 60 years old and older may now begin shopping at 8 a.m. daily when a store is typically not open to the general public until 9 a.m. — this will vary depending on the store location, but the hour will be reserved before the normal opening time. "Whole Foods Market recognizes the important role we play in our communities, especially during this challenging time," the company writes. "We are setting aside this time to help these customers, who national health authorities have identified as among the most vulnerable to COVID-19, feel more comfortable shopping our stores and helping to ensure they are able to get the items they need in a less crowded environment."
Safeway made a similar move this week, announcing that stores in the Bay Area and the Seattle area would recognize new hours for seniors 65 and over and all those considered at high risk — Tuesday and Thursday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. will be those designated shopping hours. At the Castro branch of Safeway, for instance, it should be noted, the store opens at 6 a.m.
Albertsons, which has the same parent company as Safeway, made the same announcement Tuesday.
"We are sensitive to the fact that everyone wants to make sure they have the items they need, and we also know that everyone wants their neighbors to stay safe and healthy, too,” said Albertsons CEO Vivek Sankaran. Customers will need to check their specific store to confirm the special hours, which may be even more extensive depending on the location.
Similarly, as KPIX reports, Zanotto’s grocery stores in the San Jose launched senior hours from 8 to 9 a.m., noting that this is also when the store is in its cleanest state after nighttime cleanings.
Target is also offering senior hours, as ABC 7 reports. The first hour of every store's opening hours each Wednesday will be designated for seniors over 65. In an official announcement, Target said it would be doing this nationwide, and close all stores by 9 p.m. so that increased cleaning can occur overnight.
"In addition to these changes, we’re fast-tracking the flow of products that are in highest demand, including food, medicine and other essentials," says Target CEO Brian Cornell. "We’ll continue to maintain limitations on in-demand items and respectfully ask all guests to consider their immediate needs and purchase accordingly so more families can find the products they need."