Amid the widespread panic over the coronavirus – and the even more widespread panic over the panic itself – grocery stores are now met daily with long lines and throngs of customers ransacking their shelves for canned goods, pasta and household goods and cleaners.
As the panic heightens, in an attempt to help the most vulnerable, some stores have taken the added measure of opening their doors for the first hour or two of the day to the elderly, those known to be at a higher risk of dying from the coronavirus and who may not be able to shop in the middle of a mob.
Dollar General announced Monday that it will be dedicating the first hour of business in its more than 16,000 stores nationwide to customers over the age of 60.
"We appreciate our customers’ understanding of our decision and request they visit our stores later in the morning to allow at-risk populations the ability to purchase the items they need at affordable prices,” Dollar General CEO Todd Vasos said in a statement.
The Texas chain Food Town says they’re opening an hour early for their elderly customers. Some localities, like Jersey City, New Jersey, have reached out to retailers to open all grocery stores in the area to the elderly and disabled, as well as pregnant women.
Supermarket chains across America and around the world are also modifying their hours around cleaning and sanitization, as well as trying to help at-risk groups like older people get the items they need during the early morning hours when stores are at their cleanest. The Australian grocery chain Woolworths says they’re opening an hour early to allow elderly and disabled customers shop. Other grocery chains in Canada and the U.K. are doing the same.