Stop & Shop supermarkets have become the first chain in the U.S. to set aside specific hours for the elderly and those most vulnerable during the coronavirus outbreak.
According to Forbes, beginning Thursday, the chain will only allow customers ages 60 or older into its stores between 6 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. before any other customers and when the stores are at their cleanest. The supermarket chain added the move will help with social distancing.
“Now, more than ever, it’s important we come together as a community to support each other during challenging times,” Stop & Shop president Gordon Reid in a statement on Monday. “Part of that is showing compassion and care for some of our neighbors who are most vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus. According to the CDC, that is members of the population who are age 60 and older.”
Stop and Shop owns and operates more than 400 supermarkets in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, and New Jersey. The chain said these hours will be available every day and every supermarket will have a designated entrance for these times. Stores will not be requiring identification to enter, but said employees reserve the right to ask customers to leave if they are not a member of this age group.
Other national supermarket chains in the US including Walmart, Trader Joe’s, and Publix have had their hours cut or have been closed entirely due to the outbreak. The cuts in hours and store closures have led to an explosion of online orders. As a result, some retailers are looking to add employees.
On Monday, Amazon said it’s seeking to hire 100,000 warehouse and delivery employees to help meet increased online demand. Ordering online will only grow during the outbreak. Internet service providers Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon have all pledged not to cut internet service even if customers cannot pay their bills due to factors of coronavirus.