Coronavirus prompts retailers to make protective clothing

Coronavirus Prompts Whole Foods, Safeway And Other Grocery Stores To Reserve Shopping Times For Vulnerable Customers

Coronavirus prompts retailers to make protective clothing

Whole Foods announced special hours for older shoppers.


Last updated April 4, 5:03 p.m. EDT

Last week, a now-viral tweet took social media by storm. In a four-part thread, 25-year-old Oregonian Rebecca Mehra recounted her run-in with an elderly couple who was too scared to enter a Safeway supermarket due to the coronavirus outbreak. Fearing for their safety, the woman asked Mehra to buy groceries for them.

“She told me she had been sitting in the car for nearly 45 min before I had arrived, waiting to ask the right person for help,” Mehra writes.

While the coronavirus pandemic poses health risks for everyone, adults over the age of 65 are particularly vulnerable. And amid widespread panic buying and hoarding of goods, elderly shoppers and other susceptible groups have found themselves unable to get their hands on vital resources, such as groceries, medical supplies and other household items.

In direct response to this plight, a number of supermarkets across the U.S. are offering designated hours for the elderly, the disabled community and those who are pregnant. 

The below list is in no way exhaustive, but it does feature some of the larger, more well-known food retailers—many of which provide online shopping with curbside pickup and delivery services to help limit shoppers' contact with one another.

ACME Markets

The supermarket chain has set aside the weekday hours of 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. for senior citizens—those 60 and above—pregnant women and the immunocompromised.


Albertsons will reserve every Tuesday and Thursday from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. for senior citizens and other at-risk populations, such as pregnant women or those with compromised immune systems.


On Tuesdays and Thursdays, ALDI stores will open at 8:30 a.m. and reserve the first hour of business for vulnerable shoppers. This includes senior citizens, expectant mothers and those with underlying health concerns.

Big Lots

All locations are reserving the first hour of each day for senior citizens and those most vulnerable to the virus.

BJ’s Wholesale

Senior members have free reign at the warehouse club from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. every day.


Costco warehouses will open from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m., Tuesday through Thursday, for members over age 60 and for those with physical impairments.

Erewhon natural foods market located in West Los Angeles.

Los Angeles Times via Getty Images


All five California locations will open one hour earlier, from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m., for the elderly and shoppers with weakened immune systems.

DeCicco & Sons

The family-owned supermarket chain is reserving 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. at all eight New York locations for senior and immunocompromised customers.

Dollar General

The first hour of business at all 15,000 U.S. stores will be dedicated solely for the shopping needs of senior customers.


Shoppers over the age of 65 and those who are expecting or are highly susceptible to serious illness have priority access from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m.

Food Lion

The grocery store chain, which operates operates over 1000 supermarkets in 10 states, is dedicating 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. every Monday and Wednesday for customers over the age of 60 and those identified as high-risk for severe illness.

Food Town

The Texas grocer will open its doors from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. to allow those 65 and older to shop in a less crowded environment. Access to the store during that time will require a government-issued state ID.


The supermarket chain, which services New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, is limiting the first hour of business to senior citizens only.


The Southern California supermarket chain is holding the 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. time slot for customers who are 65 and older. Shoppers may be asked for ID.

Giant Foods

Effective March 20, the mid-Atlantic grocer will dedicate one hour of shopping, starting at 6 a.m., for senior citizens 60 and older as well as individuals with compromised immune systems.

Harris Teeter is reserving 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. very Monday and Thursday as senior shopping hours, and is designating “ExpressLane” online shoppingpick-up times from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Thursday for seniors only.


Hy-Vee will reserve 7 a.m. to 8 a.m., seven days a week, for customers who are 60 years or older, expectant mothers and anyone with an underlying health condition.


A number of Kroger stores are carving out the first hour of operations for senior shoppers and those at-risk of contracting COVID-19.

Mollie Stone’s Markets

The Bay Area supermarket chain will open all stores one hour early on Saturdays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m., to serve immunocompromised customers and shopper over the age of 60.

Mother’s Market

The natural foods store will open one hour earlier every Wednesday at 6 a.m. to accommodate customers who fall into one of the following high-risk populations: the elderly, the disabled and those with compromised immune systems, such as cancer patients who are receiving chemotherapy.

New Seasons Market

The privately owned grocery chain has earmarked 8 a.m. to 9 a.m, Monday through Friday, for “senior shopping hour” and is extending its senior discount to all hours of operation.

Northgate Gonzalez Market

Senior citizens and customers with disabilities have priority shopping from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. at all 41 Southern California locations.

Nugget Markets

Tuesdays and Thursdays from store opening until 8 a.m. are designated as shopping hours for guests 65 and older and those who are at-risk due to health conditions.


The Florida-headquartered grocer is reserving 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays for senior customers who are age 65 and older.


Most stores are open for seniors from 6 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. daily


Customers with weakened immune systems and those over age 60 can shop in-store between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m.

Safeway in Washington, D.C.

The Washington Post via Getty Images


Safeway, which operates under the same company as Albertsons, is reserving Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. for its most vulnerable shoppers.

Sam’s Club

All 599 U.S. locations will offer shopping hours every Tuesday and Thursday from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. for seniors and those with disabilities or compromised immune systems.


Schnucks is designating the first hour of each shopping day, from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m., for seniors over the age of 60 and those who are most at risk for COVID-19.


Based in South Florida, Sedano’s, the largest Hispanic-owned supermarket chain in the U.S. will reserve 7 a.m to 8 a.m. every morning for seniors and other vulnerable shoppers.

Shaw’s Supermarket

The New England supermarket chain is setting aside the hours of 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays for senior citizens, pregnant shoppers and people with compromised immune systems.


Some stores are reserving special shopping hours for the elderly and high-risk individuals, while others are establishing separate checkout stations to accommodate these demographics.

Smith’s Food & Drug Store

Smith’s Food & Drug Stores will dedicate 7 a.m. to 8 a.m.on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays solely to the shopping needs of senior citizens. Each store will also have staff on hand to help those who need special accommodations.

Stop and Shop

Starting March 19, all Stop & Shop stores will open earlier, from 6 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. daily, in order to serve customers over age 60, have weakened immune systems and are more susceptible to COVID-19.

A worker collects carts from the parking lot of a Target store/



The first hour of shopping every Wednesday is reserved for elderly customers and shoppers with underlying health issues.

Trader Joe’s

Employees will provide a separate expedited entry line for senior customers from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. 

The Fresh Market

The gourmet supermarket chain is reserving 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. on weekdays for seniors and all at-risk individuals.

Vallarta Supermarkets

The grocery chain will open its 50 California stores at 7 a.m. to accommodate customers over the age of 65, pregnant women and those with disabilities, before opening to the public at 8 a.m.


Walgreens, the second largest pharmacy chain in the U.S., is reserving Tuesdays from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. for senior citizens, their caregivers and their immediate family.


Every Tuesday until April 28, Walmart will open one hour early for customers over age 60.

Whole Foods Market

Customers over 60 years old can begin shopping one hour before the store opens to the general public.


All stores and pharmacies will dedicate weekdays from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. to senior shoppers and those most at-risk.

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