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As Panic Buying Spreads, Stores Roll Out Exclusive Shopping Hours for Elderly and Disabled

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Shopping Elderly

(TMU) — As the coronavirus outbreak continues to spread across the globe, a number of supermarkets around the world have committed to hold dedicated shopping hours for elderly people and those with disabilities or compromised immune systems.

The move to offer special hours to the most vulnerable communities comes as panic buying due to spread of CoViD-19 has resulted in empty stores filled with shelves entirely stripped of products including toilet paper, dried pasta, canned tuna, and other shelf-stable items.

Stores reportedly offering the elderly-only shopping hour include the Woolworths retail chain in Australia; Altadena, California’s Grocery Outlet; Fields Foods in St. Louis, Missouri; Lunds & Byerlys in Minnesota; and branches of British retailer Iceland.

The stores are each offering an hour in the morning during which vulnerable shoppers will have exclusive access to the store, ensuring that they are able to stock up on essential groceries and other supplies without having to deal with large crowds of frightened, younger, able-bodied shoppers jostling and fighting for goods.

In a statement, Woolworths Supermarkets Managing Director Claire Peters said:

“While we’ll continue to do our very best to restock our stores during this period of unprecedented demand, we know many of our elderly customers have been missing out on essential items when they shop.

This temporary measure will give them, and those with a disability, the opportunity to shop before ​our stores officially open, helping them obtain the ​essential ​items they need most in a less crowded environment.

We continue to encourage all Australians to be mindful of those in our communities who might need extra help at this time.”

British retailer Iceland also announced that some stores would open an hour early to allow elderly shoppers to stock up on essential products. While the move is not a company policy, the company told BBC that it would allow individual stores to open earlier if it suits the needs of local shoppers.

In a statement shared on the Facebook page of the Iceland store at The Kennedy Centre in Belfast, Northern Ireland, the retailer noted:

“Iceland Foods at Kennedy Centre will be opening their store between 8-9am for the elderly commencing Tuesday 17th March. 

Could the wider public please respect this hour, and understand that this time is allocated for elderly people only. Iceland appeal to people’s better nature when realising who needs priority.”

The statement, which has since been shared thousands of times online and received widespread positive feedback, has been hailed by shoppers concerned by how vulnerable communities have been impacted during the crisis resulting from the novel virus.

One commenter wrote:

“Well done Iceland for taking a stand. Well done for now trying a different approach to make sure those most vulnerable are able to get a chance to buy what they need.”

Iceland Foods at Kennedy Centre will be opening their store between 8-9am for the elderly commencing Tuesday 17th March….

Posted by Kennedy Centre on Sunday, March 15, 2020

Medical authorities including the Centers for Disease Control have issued grave warnings that while the novel coronavirus can infect anyone, adults older than 60 and people with severe chronic illness are most likely to become seriously ill from CoViD-19.

Older adults who are over the age of 80 also face a severe threat from the spreading virus. According to a report published in medical journal JAMA, the overall fatality rate among roughly 72,000 Chinese coronavirus patients was 2.3 percent. However, among adults over 80, the fatality rate rose to 15 percent.

By Elias Marat | Creative Commons |

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