CA grocery stores implement special hours for vulnerable customers

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Grocery stores in California have implemented special hours for people deemed to be more vulnerable to COVID-19, colloquially known as the coronavirus.

On March 17, Whole Foods Market announced that it will be opening one hour early to service customers ages 60 and above. Those above the age of 65 have been identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to be among the most vulnerable to COVID-19, according to its website.

“We are setting aside this time to help these customers … feel more comfortable shopping our stores and helping to ensure that they are able to get the items they need in a less crowded environment,” the Whole Foods Market website reads.

Target is now reserving an hour every Tuesday and Wednesday specifically for customers who are ages 65 and above, pregnant or identified by the CDC to be vulnerable, according to its website. During these hours, Target employees will remind customers to practice social distancing while entering the store as well as while in line.

Other grocery stores such as Trader Joe’s, Safeway and Berkley Bowl quickly followed suit. On March 23, Trader Joe’s locations added an additional line outside the front door reserved for senior customers between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. each day, according to the company’s website.

“This will ensure that those customers in need will have an expedited entrance to the store to help make their experience a more positive one,” a Trader Joe’s customer update reads. “Our Crew Members in each of our stores remain committed to these ideas and, as always, will be ready to help any customer needing extra assistance for any reason.”

Safeway customers were asked to avoid shopping on Tuesdays and Thursdays from open time to 9 a.m. to make Safeway more available for seniors and other vulnerable shoppers, according to a March 20 Facebook message by President and CEO of Albertsons Companies Vivek Sankaran.

Safeway has also implemented contact-free delivery procedures, allowing delivery drivers to sign for customers.

Berkeley Bowl changed its hours of operation to 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. in an effort to better sanitize, clean and stock its stores, according to the Berkeley Bowl website. Berkeley Bowl is also open to senior citizens at 9 a.m., one hour before the store officially opens.

“We’ll continue to take additional measures and guidance from the CDC and the City of Berkeley going forward and encourage you to share any suggestions to help us provide the best/safest possible service in these challenging times,” the Berkeley Bowl website reads.

Contact Marie Bellevue at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @MarieBellevue_DC.