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7 Stores With Dedicated Shopping Hours For Seniors Amid COVID-19

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As concerns over coronavirus sparked massive crowds at grocery stores around the country, some retailers have moved to take action in an effort to spare those more vulnerable to the virus from large gatherings of people. Across the United States, a number of stores have dedicated shopping hours for seniors and other vulnerable or immunocompromised customers.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has noted that early data shows "older adults" and people with serious chronic medical conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease have a higher risk of becoming severely ill from coronavirus. As a result, the federal agency has urged those considered most at risk to, among other things, "avoid crowds as much as possible" and "limit close contact" with others when they do have to go out in public.

But when supermarkets and other food retailers quickly became overcrowded due to coronavirus concerns, it became clear that avoiding crowds would be easier said than done for many seniors and immunocompromised individuals. That's when some began urging retailers to set aside a few shopping hours each day, when only their more vulnerable customers could shop.

One of the first people to advocate for dedicated shopping hours was celebrity chef José Andrés. He urged grocery stores to allocate two hours a day for people age 60 and over to shop without hoards of other customers. "Supermarkets should open early mornings for 2 hours for elderly above 60, to protect them from contact with younger people," Andrés tweeted Sunday. "Also volunteer system for shopping and delivery should be implemented."

Here are some of the stores that have since dedicated special shopping hours to senior citizens and immunocompromised individuals:

Target

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Target CEO Brian Cornell announced Wednesday that, going forward, Target stores across the country would reserve one hour a week for vulnerable guests like the elderly and anyone with underlying health concerns to do their shopping. According to Cornell, the first hour a Target store is open on every Wednesday will now be reserved for what he called "vulnerable guests."

Whole Foods

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On Tuesday, Whole Foods announced that all stores in the United States and Canada would open their doors only to customers 60 and older during the hour before normal business hours. For example, if your local Whole Foods is slated to open at 9 a.m., customers age 60 or older could access the store beginning at 8 a.m.

Albertsons/Safeway/Vons/Acme

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Albertsons Companies, which owns and operates thousands of stores under names that include Albertsons, Safeway, Vons, and Acme, has said it would reserve two hours for senior citizens, pregnant women, and anyone with a compromised immune system to shop alone on Tuesdays and Thursdays. In a statement released earlier this week, Albertsons President and CEO Vivek Sankaran asked customers "to respect these special hours for those who are most at risk in our communities."

The Fresh Market

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The Fresh Market, which has stores scattered across the east coast, has said it would designate one special shopping hour a day for seniors and other at-risk individuals. Vulnerable customers will find The Fresh Market open to them from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. Monday through Friday.

Dollar General

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In an effort to help seniors avoid crowded markets, the discount chain Dollar General said it was "strongly encouraging" its customers to dedicate the first opening hour to senior shoppers. "Dollar General is strongly encouraging that the first hour of operations each day be dedicated solely for the shopping needs of senior customers, who are one of the groups most vulnerable to the COVID-19 coronavirus," the company said in a statement released Tuesday.

Stop & Shop

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Stop & Shop has dedicated one and a half hours of every day to vulnerable customers. Customers age 60 and over as well as those with weakened immune systems can have the store to themselves from 6 a.m. to 7:30 a.m., an update from the company read.

Walgreens

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Walgreens has moved to make Tuesdays, Senior Day. Seniors and their caregivers or immediate families will find all-day discounts and special senior shopping hours (8 a.m. to 9 a.m.) available to them every Tuesday. Customers 55 years and older can receive 30% off all regularly priced Walgreen brand products and 20% off regularly priced national brands, the retailer tells Romper. Walgreens has also instructed its pharmacists to reach out to senior patients to ensure they receive the service they need, including prescription medication and product supply check ins.

In light of the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, Walgreens is also offering drive-thru shopping for select health, cleaning, and grocery items.

While dedicated shopping hours are likely a help for high risk individuals, the best way to help senior and immunocompromised shoppers truly avoid crowds and stay safe is by offering to do their shopping for them whenever possible. Or, consider assisting them in placing an online order with curbside pick up or home delivering.

If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all of Romper’s parents + coronavirus coverage here, and Bustle’s constantly updated, general “what to know about coronavirus” here.

Editor's Note: This article has been updated to include Walgreens' shopping hours for seniors.