In an effort to protect older customers amid the coronavirus outbreak, Massachusetts-based Stop & Shop says it will set aside specific hours for shoppers 60 and up.
Beginning March 19, all Stop & Shop stores will be open early to allow those 60 and older to shop between 6 and 7:30 a.m., the Quincy-based grocery chain said.
The company said they made the decision based on the latest recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control that call for social distancing.
"Now, more than ever, it's important we come together as a community to support each other during challenging times. Part of that is showing compassion and care for some of our neighbors who are most vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus," read a statement from Stop & Shop.
Most stores have already adjusted their hours so that employees can restock shelves, sanitize the stores and get proper rest time, company officials said.
Stop & Stop also reminded customers that in addition to their regular 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. hours, home delivery service was still available.
"If you have a grandparent, parent, friend, or neighbor in this age group, remember you can place an order on their behalf with our new 'Contact-Free' delivery option. With this service, we'll notify you by text or email when the driver arrives, and they will simply leave the bags on the doorstep or building entry and return to their vehicle," Stop & Shop said.
Dollar General also said it will dedicate its first hour of operation to senior shoppers.
"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. "During these unprecedented times, Dollar General is diligently working to meet the ongoing needs of our customers and communities. We are proud to live our mission and provide customers with everyday low prices on the household essentials that are used and replenished most often."
Each store will also close an hour earlier than usual to allow employees to clean and restock shelves.