Woolworths will open its doors an hour early for elderly and disabled people to shop for essentials during coronavirus frenzy
Woolworths has become the first supermarket giant to announce it will open early with a dedicated shopping hour for the elderly and disabled to stock up without being caught up in the panic-buying process.
Most of its stores across the nation will open to the vulnerable exclusively from 7am to 8am, starting Tuesday until at least Friday.
Panic buying in recent weeks sparked by the spread of coronavirus in Australia has seen supermarkets stripped of essentials such as toilet paper, pasta and tinned and other dried food.
‘The move has been prompted by the unprecedented demand in supermarkets over the past week, which has seen many elderly and vulnerable people in the community missing out on vital items they may need when they shop,’ Woolworths announced on Monday morning.
Woolworths will open its doors early with a dedicated shopping hour for the elderly and disabled, starting from Tuesday
‘While we’ll continue to do our very best to restock our stores during this period of unprecedented demand, we know many of our elderly customers have been missing out on essential items when they shop,’ managing director Claire Peters said.
‘This temporary measure will give them, and those with a disability, the opportunity to shop before our stores officially open – helping them obtain the essential items they need most in a less crowded environment.
Stores will open to other customers from 8am.
It follows a desperate plea to supermarkets from The Project co-host Lisa Wilkinson after yet another brawl between panic-buying shoppers at a Woolworths in Sydney’s south-west on Sunday.
Two men fought at a crowded Woolworths in Bass Hill in Sydney’s southwest on Sunday as onlookers screamed. Frightened elderly people can’t compete for food in these conditions
‘As the COVID-19 death toll here and overseas proves, those who are at greatest risk of contracting coronavirus are the elderly, the weak, the unwell and the vulnerable,’ she said on Sunday night’s program.
‘They will be feeling very scared right now and we need to put plans in place to ensure they are not left behind.
‘Supermarket bosses, can I suggest you think about leaving that first hour of trading each day for the elderly and those with disabilities, or those who can prove they are shopping for them. No huge crowds, everything restocked and freshly cleaned. That is a no-brainer.
Ms Wilkinson issued this plea for the rest of Australia.
‘For the rest of us, if you personally have more than you can use from those recent supermarket shops, think about donating some of it to someone you know who may have been forgotten in all of this panic,’ she said.
Ms Peters added: ‘We continue to encourage all Australians to be mindful of those in our communities who might need extra help at this time. Now – more than ever – we need to be kind to each other, especially to those most vulnerable.’
The dedicated shopping hour has been set up for elderly shoppers can avoid confrontations such as this seen recently in a Coles supermarket