Beginning Thursday March 19, Stop & Shop will be opening earlier to senior citizens. From 6 a.m. to 7:30 a.m., only those age 60 and above will be allowed to enter stores to better enable social distancing. Stop & Shop has also reduced its normal opening hours; the stores will now be open to the public from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. in order to “enable our associates to spend more time unloading deliveries, stocking shelves—and to take some time for rest,” according to a press release.
The grocery chain hopes this initiative will help curb the spread of COVID-19 by allowing senior citizens, who are more susceptible to the virus, to avoid crowds while shopping for necessities. “Stop & Shop is making the decision to allow community measures in this age category to shop in a less crowded environment, which better enables social distancing,” Gordon Reid, president of Stop & Shop, said in a statement.
Other retailers are taking similar measures when it comes to special senior shopping hours. Dollar Store is dedicating the first hour of business to senior citizens as well. Between 6 a.m. to 7 a.m., Dollar General will only be open to senior citizens. “In keeping with our mission and our ongoing commitment to serve our communities, we are dedicating the first hour of each day to seniors,” Todd Vasos, Dollar General’s CEO, said in a statement. Meanwhile, Food Town is opening its stores from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. to shoppers 65 and older. Target, Vons, and Whole Foods are also planning to introduce dedicated shopping hours for seniors.
Although senior citizens are the only ones allowed to take part in these special shopping hours for now, it’s important to remember that they’re not the only high-risk group for COVID-19 — which is why it’s important for everyone to follow the CDC guidelines around hand-washing and social distancing, among other precautions, whether you’re considered high-risk or not.
“People with underlying health conditions are at a higher-than-normal risk of developing severe forms of COVID-19,” Dr. Amesh A. Adaljia, an infectious disease expert and senior scholar at the John Hopkins Center for Healthy Security, told Prevention.com. High-risk factors include blood disorders, chronic kidney or liver disease, and compromised immune systems, as well as more common health conditions like asthma, diabetes, and current or recent pregnancies.
Many stores, including Stop & Shop, are still offering “contact free” delivery service as an option to all shoppers. “With this option, we’ll notify you by text or email when a driver arrives, and then they will simply leave the bags on the doorstep or building entry and return to the vehicle,” Reid said. He encouraged all age groups, not jut senior citizens, to take advantage of the delivery program to encourage social distancing and limit unnecessary contact with others. However, due to high demand and fluctuating stock, your local store’s delivery services may be experiencing delays, so it’s important to call before placing an order.
Get more information about how retail and grocery stores are reacting to the coronavirus outbreak.