The stories were heartwarming. Young, self-quarantining types volunteering to pick up groceries for their elderly neighbors, who are particularly vulnerable to contracting the virus. But what about those who aren’t so lucky to be in the presence of such Good Samaritans? How can they cope with the fear of encountering virus carriers and aggressive hoarders at their local supermarkets?
Now, older Seattleites in the vicinity of an Albertsons, Safeway, Uwajimaya, or Whole Foods Market won’t have to rely on delivery services to stock up sans anxiety. On Tuesday, Albertsons Companies (Albertsons, Safeway) announced that use of its stores will be reserved for its most vulnerable customers every Tuesday and Thursday from 7am to 9am (keep apprised of store hours here and here). That group includes senior citizens, pregnant women, and immunocompromised individuals. Others should not visit the markets during those couple of hours.
“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,” Vivek Sankaran, the company’s president and CEO, said in a statement.
Uwajimaya and Whole Foods Market relayed similar news on Tuesday. All of those stores will now open an hour early to accommodate seniors. At Whole Foods, that means customers 60 and older.
“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,” the company said in a statement.
The first wave of Seattle-centric grocery stores adopting senior-friendly policies arrived after Stop and Shop, Food Town, and other chains across the country embraced the concept. It’s not without drawbacks—stores should still try to limit large crowds and promote social distancing of six feet or greater, and older customers should strongly consider delivery services—but it’s nice to know that grandma won’t get barreled over by some quarantine-averse bro anytime soon.