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Grocery Stores Respond to Coronavirus Crisis With Seniors-Only Shopping Hours

People with chronic illness and other vulnerability to COVID-19 are also invited

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Grocery stores around the world are opening early to allow vulnerable shoppers time to buy supplies
Photo by Liam McBurney/PA Images via Getty Images

Tales of packed grocery stores and bare shelves abound this week, as residents of the San Francisco Bay Area were ordered to shelter in place, a rule that means that while shopping for essentials is allowed, out-of-the-house activities beyond that are forbidden. But that’s just for people who are at less risk of contracting the new coronavirus (COVID-19). As people over the age of 65, those with compromised immune systems, and those with chronic health conditions are particularly vulnerable to the illness, their movements are even more restricted, regardless of the current health guidance wherever they reside. In response, grocery stores in the Bay Area and elsewhere are launching specific hours designated only for older folks and other at-risk people, so they can shop with less — one hopes — risk to their health.

One of the first shops to launch this program was Zanotto’s Market, a San Jose, California-based chain of five Bay Area grocery stores. Fred Zanotto, the company’s vice president of operations, told ABC 7 that after seeing long lines at big box stores, he was inspired to open an hour early every day to give the over 65 and vulnerable community first crack at their freshly stocked shelves. “It’s a hard time right now,” said Zanotto. “Fortunately we have a staff that’s incredible, we’re blessed with great customers... we just have to take care of each other.”

Other companies have since followed suit. Here’s a list of special shopping hours from Bay Area and national chains as things stand at publication time, but please do contact the stores to verify the hours before leaving home to shop.

Here’s a list of stores and their hours dedicated to serving seniors and the vulnerable:

Albertsons: 7–9 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays

Dollar General: The first operating hour of every store, daily

Fresh Market: 8–9 a.m. Monday-Friday

Gelson’s: 7–8 a.m., but bring proof of seniority, as the company says “you may be asked for ID,” to confirm shopping worthiness

Mother’s Markets: 6–7 a.m. Wednesdays. Free home delivery is also available for high-risk groups , the promo code to arrange is FREE4SENIORS.

Safeway: 7–9 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays

Stop & Shop: 6–7:30 a.m. daily, check locations for a special entrance for seniors only

Target: The first hour of operation in all stores

Vallarta Supermarkets: 7–8 a.m. daily

Whole Foods Market: One hour before posted opening hours, daily