DENVER — Grocery stores across Colorado are adjusting how they operate amid an outbreak of COVID-19, a new strain of the coronavirus.
Some of those stores are adjusting hours to allow employees more time to stock shelves while others are dedicating certain hours of business each day to senior shoppers, who are among the most vulnerable to the virus, according to health officials.
Here's a roundup of some of the temporary changes:
King Soopers and City Market
King Soopers and City Market are dedicating the first shopping hour on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m., exclusively to the shopping needs of senior citizens. It's a temporary moved aimed at providing at-risk customers the ability to purchase items they need while avoiding heavy crowds.
"We request that customers respect these hours for the health of our community," a statement from King Soopers said. "We appreciate all customers for their kind consideration, whose concern contributed to our decision to provide designated shopping hours for seniors."
For all other customers, store hours will be 8 a.m. to 8 p.m, Monday, Wednesday and Friday and 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. on all other days.
King Soopers also announced it would be installing plexiglass partitions at cash registers and installing educational floor decals to promote physical distancing at checklanes and other counters.
In an effort to keep products on shelves longer, King Soopers has made other adjustments, including its supplies team maximizing the number of hours they work and setting a purchase limit of five sanitation products as well as five cold and flu items.
King Soopers told 9NEWS there is no reason for people to be alarmed because they have an entire warehouse – that spans nearly 20 acres – filled with supplies to restock the chain’s 153 stores.
Safeway and Albertsons
Safeway and Albertsons stores in Colorado have reserved Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. for senior citizens and other vulnerable shoppers who must leave home to obtain their groceries.
Stores ask that customers help reserve this shopping time for those most at risk in our communities.
Both businesses have also started implementing social distancing protocols in stores in an effort to prevent customers from being within 6 feet of any other person for more than 10 minutes.
Those efforts include installing designated waiting points through floor markers positioned throughout the store, especially at check stands and stations where people most often congregate, like the service deli, bakeries and pharmacy areas. Customers will also be asked to wait until the customer in front of them has finished collecting their groceries before unloading their groceries at the check stand. .
“Our stores are following the guidance from the CDC with regard to regular hand washing and enhanced cleaning and sanitization protocols," president and CEO Vivek Sankaran said. "We believe that the next step toward helping slow and contain the COVID-19 virus is by reinforcing proper social distancing whenever possible."
Safeway also said regular store hours are being updated continuously. To find a Safeway store near you, head to this link.
Each Tuesday starting March 24, Walgreens stores will open at 8 a.m., with the full hour from 8 a.m. until 9 a.m. dedicated to senior citizens. This hour is also available to their caregivers and immediate families.
"Additionally, we will offer our senior day discount all day on Tuesdays during this time. Customers age 55 and older will receive 30 percent off regularly priced Walgreens brands and 20 percent off regularly priced national brands," Walgreens said in a statement.
Most Walgreens locations, including 24-hour stores, have adjusted hours and will now be open from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. during weekdays further notice.
For Walgreens locations with a 24-hour drive-thru pharmacy, while the front of store will close at 9 p.m., the pharmacy drive-thru will remain open, as it always to assist customers and patients with their prescriptions. Pickup of other select products will also be available at drive-thru.
For stores with shorter operating hours than 9 a.m. until 9 p.m., customers and patients should visit Walgreens' store locator for specific operating hours.
Starting March 26, Sam’s Club locations nationwide will offer early shopping hours every Tuesday and Thursday from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. for seniors and those with disabilities or compromised immune systems, the company announced. That includes pharmacy and optical centers.
Sam's Club also introduced a new concierge service that allows vulnerable shoppers during those hours to shop without ever leaving their car.
"From a designated parking location, members in need can place their order from their car, and a Sam’s Club associate will grab the items on the list," the company said.
The changes will last until further notice.
Trader Joe's said it will maintain an additional line outside the front door's of its stores to to assist senior customers each day from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
"This will ensure that those customers in need will have an expedited entrance to the store to help make their experience a more positive one," the company said in a statement.
Store hours will remain the same, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Dollar General has asked all of its stores to dedicate the first hour of each shopping day to only senior shoppers. The dedicated "Senior Hour" is an effort to give those most at-risk for coronavirus a chance to avoid more crowded shopping periods.
"In keeping with our mission and our ongoing commitment to serve our communities, we are dedicating the first hour of each day to seniors," Dollar General CEO Todd Vasos said in a statement. "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 also said that starting on Tuesday, all of its stores will close one hour earlier to give employees more time to clean and re-stock store shelves.
All Whole Foods Market stores are now allowing customers 60 and older to shop inside the store one hour before the general public each day.
In Colorado that means customers 60+ can shop starting at 7 a.m. For a list of locations, head to this link.
"We are setting aside this time to help these customers, who national health authorities have identified as among the most vulnerable to COVID-19, feel more comfortable shopping our stores and helping to ensure they are able to get the items they need in a less crowded environment," a statement from Whole Foods says.
Whole Foods Market stores will close up to two hours early to give staff more time to restock shelves, sanitize stores and rest in preparation for the next day.
During that time, stores will remain open for pickup (for stores that offer it), and staff will continue to fulfill Prime delivery orders in an effort to meet demand and ensure that people who need to remain at home can still get their groceries in a timely manner.
Natural Grocers announced Saturday that all store locations will be closing at 7:35 pm. daily so that staff can restock and disinfect the store. Colorado stores will continue to open at 8 a.m. Owners request that customers purchase only what they need and do not hoard products.
"During times of community-spread illness, it is critical for our communal health that all people can find the products they need to support their health and the health of their families," a statement from Natural Grocers says. "This is not possible if a few people purchase more than they need."
All in-store nutrition education classes and recipe demos have been cancelled through the end of March. On-tap Kombucha stations will also be closed through the end of the month.
Home delivery is still available at most store locations through Instacart.
Natural Grocers has also rescheduled the grand opening date of a new story in Green Valley Ranch, which was previously set to open on March 25.
Target announced several changes recently that will be in effect until further notice.
All Target locations will be closing by 9 p.m. each day so that staff can replenish and deeply clean the store. Target will also be dedicating its first hour of shopping each Wednesday to support vulnerable guests, including the elderly and those with underlying health concerns.
Target officials said they are also fast-tracking the flow of products that are in highest demand, including food, medicine and other essentials.
"We’ll continue to maintain limitations on in-demand items and respectfully ask all guests to consider their immediate needs and purchase accordingly so more families can find the products they need," a statement from Target says.
Walmart stores and Neighborhood Marts will be open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. until further notice, effective Sunday, March 15. Stores that normally operate under more reduced hours (such as stores that are normally open at 7 a.m. or close at 10 p.m.) will keep their current hours
Cases of COVID-19 were first reported in Colorado on March 5 and the number of positives cases has continued to rise.
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