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Smith’s, Albertsons and Walmart stepping up to protect vulnerable populations with special shopping hours

One of the most vulnerable sectors of the community when it comes to COVID-19 is senior citizens, and with the novel coronavirus a highly contagious illness, some stores are now taking action to help limit exposure for those populations.

Smith’s Food and Drug announced that starting Wednesday, March 18, its stores, including the Pahrump location, would be limiting the first hour of certain days to senior shoppers.

“Smith’s Food and Drug stores will dedicate the first hour on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. solely to the shopping needs of senior citizens until further notice,” a statement from the company reads. “This group is the most vulnerable to the COVID-19 coronavirus.”

Staff will be on hand at all store locations to help assist those with need of special accommodations, the statement details. “For all other customers, temporary store hours will continue to be 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. until further notice,” the information states. “In addition, Smith’s is evaluating extending pharmacy hours to open earlier for seniors.”

Exclusive shopping hours for seniors are not the only action Smith’s is taking to help combat the chaos and health risks associated with coronavirus, either. The store is also waiving pick-up fees for online orders from customers whose verified age is 60 or older. Those fees will be waived until at least April 18.

“Smith’s will continue to evaluate the situation to see if the fee waiver should be extended,” the company explained.

At this time, Smith’s is also declining any interviews with media and will not be granting access to its stores to news crews, in order to, “…avoid further disruption to our customers’ shopping experience and to relieve pressure on store associates.”

As for other grocery shopping outlets in Pahrump, an associate with the local Albertsons stated that the store does have plans to institute special shopping hours for certain people.

According to a news release obtained on the Albertsons Companies website, Albertsons’ 2,200-plus stores nationwide are now setting aside special hours for seniors, as well as for other high-risk populations, such as pregnant women and those with compromised immune systems.

“We are sensitive to the fact that everyone wants to make sure they have the items they need, and we also know that everyone wants their neighbors to stay safe and healthy, too,” Albertsons Companies President and CEO Vivek Sankaran stated. “We are asking our customers to respect these special hours for those who are most at risk in our communities. We thank our customers in advance for their compassion and understanding toward their neighbors and friends, and in helping us maintain this temporary operations guideline.”

The news release reported that at a minimum, the company will reserve every Tuesday and Thursday from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. for vulnerable shoppers.

Walmart announced late Wednesday evening that it had also made the decision to offer senior-only shopping hours, effective next week.

As detailed in information posted to its website by Walmart Chief Operating Officer Dacona Smith, “We know our older customers could be more vulnerable to the Coronavirus and to better support them, Walmart is offering special shopping hours. From March 24 through April 28, Walmart stores will host an hour-long senior shopping event every Tuesday for customers aged 60 and older. This will start one hour before the store opens.” The posting goes on to state that Walmart stores are now opening at 7 a.m. and closing at 8:30 p.m.

Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at rhebrock@pvtimes.com

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