On Monday, major supermarket Woolworths announced a new initiative to assist people with disability and elderly shoppers during the coronavirus crisis.
As people panic-buy essentials like pasta, muesli and toilet paper across the country, the supermarket chain has introduced a dedicated shopping hour for the elderly and people with disability, who may have been missing out.
From tomorrow, Mar. 16 until at least Friday, Woolworths will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. for those disadvantaged and vulnerable people, who hold a Government-issued concession card. Other shoppers will be able to enter stores from 8 a.m.
We’re launching a dedicated shopping hour in our stores to help support the needs of the elderly & people with disability in the community. From tomorrow until at least friday, we’ll be opening exclusively for them to shop from 7-8am, where permitted.
— Woolworths (@woolworths) March 15, 2020
Claire Peters, Woolworths Managing Director noted that the stores try to restock as much as possible to meet the current unprecedented demand.
"We know many of our elderly customers have been missing out on essential items when they shop," she 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.
"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."
Last week, Woolworths announced that they were working with NSW's Meals on Wheels program to deliver toilet paper directly to elderly people in the community. A four-pack limit on toilet paper purchases, introduced on Mar. 4, remains in place in-store and online.
Full terms and conditions and a list of stores that might be excluded from the initiative will be published on Woolworths' website today.
Coles have also announced their "Community Hour" for elderly and vulnerable people on Mar. 16. Their initiative will start on Mar. 18, with all Coles supermarkets opening from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. to people with a government-issued concession card.
All Coles will now also close by 8 p.m. to give the stores time to clean and replenish the shelves. Home delivery orders have also been suspended, so that van deliveries can focus on "the most vulnerable and those isolated", with Click&Collect and UberEats services also temporarily out of service.
Coles CEO Steven Cain said: "We believe all Australians deserve the right to access their share of grocery items, particularly the elderly and the vulnerable, so we are introducing 'Community Hour' as a temporary measure for those who need some extra help during this challenging time."