Coronavirus: Why Woolworths is slashing opening hours at 41 stores

Starting Thursday Woolworths will slash trading hours at several stores across the country to help support delivering groceries to its most vulnerable customers amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The 41 stores with new trading hours of 11am to 6pm, are dubbed Delivery Hubs.

The remaining hours at those affected stores will be used to get together online orders and help meet the demand from customers it categorises in the Priority Assistance group.

The Priority Assistance plan targets customers include the elderly, people with disabilities, those with compromised immune systems and people in mandatory isolation, and was introduced by Woolworths last week.

Customers need to apply for Priority Assistance by completing a form on the Woolworths website.

“At Woolworths we are focused on supporting the most vulnerable in the community during these challenging times,” Woolworths Group CEO Brad Banducci said.

Across Australia 41 stores have reduced their hours to help deliveries to some of Woolworths most vulnerable customers. Source: Getty

“Following an extraordinary level of demand for groceries in recent weeks, reducing trading hours in a small number of our stores to turn them into Priority Delivery Hubs will help us assist more people who can’t access a store to get products they need.”

Woolworths previously announced a dedicated shopping hour for elderly customers and persons with a disability.

Yahoo News Australia understands the dedicated hour will still be in place across those 41 dedicated stores for the rest of the week from 7am to 8am.

Across Australia, 10 stores in Victoria and Queensland will implement the new trading hours, nine in NSW, five in both Western Australia (where those five stores will also shut at 5pm on weekends) and South Australia, and one in the Northern Territory and ACT.

Across Australia 41 stores will have reduced trading hours to aid in delivering groceries to Woolworths most vulnerable customers. Source: Woolworths

Social distancing in Woolworth stores

Woolworths has introduced social distancing measures throughout stores to prevent further spread of the coronavirus.

At the start fo the week, glass screens were installed at registers to protect not only the customers but also the employees.

Australia's largest supermarket chain, Woolworths has a special hour of priority shopping to elderly customers and those with disabilities, who have been impacted by "panic-buying" due to COVID-19. Source: Getty

A store greeter will now wipe down baskets and trolleys for customers and direct them to the notice board for information on social distancing, trading hours and limits on products.

In the statement Woolworths also announced some self-serve and express check outs will be closed to create more space for customers to practice social distancing in those areas.

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