Woolworths to hold shopping hour for elderly amid coronavirus rush

Woolworths has moved to ensure elderly and disabled customers can access supermarket essentials as the stockpiling of products across Australia amid the coronavirus outbreak continues.

As of Tuesday, stores will be opening from 7am and the first hour of service will be reserved exclusively for elderly and disabled customers.

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“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,” Woolworths Supermarkets Managing Director Claire Peters said in a statement shared with Yahoo News Australia.

“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.”

The change will run until at least Friday and shoppers are required to show a concession or disability card to enter the store.

Select IGA stores are doing the same. An IGA store in Pier St, Altona in Victoria announced they will open exclusively for Seniors and Disability Cardholders between 6 and 7am Monday to Friday, and also for an hour early Saturday and Sunday.

Woolworths said the move had been prompted by an “unprecedented” demand in supermarkets which has seen several items sell out daily as Australians rush to stockpile for a possible 14 days in self-isolation.

Elderly and disabled shoppers will have access to items before regular shoppers. Source: Getty
Elderly and disabled shoppers will have access to items before regular shoppers. Source: Getty

“We continue to encourage all Australians to be mindful of those in our communities who might need extra help at this time,” Ms Peters said.

“Now - more than ever - we need to be kind to each other, especially to those most vulnerable.”

Shoppers continue to snap up toilet paper however other products such as bread, pasta, tinned foods, hand sanitisers and rice are now selling out daily.

Both Coles and Woolworths have been forced to enact strict policy that limits the amount of prized items that can be purchased.

More changes for Coles and Woolworths shoppers

The latest move comes after Coles and Woolworths announced they would both be changing their home delivery procedures.

A customer walks past two empty shelves in Woolworths.
Empty shelves of toilet paper are seen at Woolworths Town Hall in Sydney. Source: AAP

The supermarket giants confirmed to Yahoo News Australia shopping can now be left unattended at a customer’s address if they have been notified customers are self-isolating.

The rush to buy products in store has led to ugly scenes with some shoppers fighting over remaining products.

On Sunday at a packed Woolworths in Sydney’s west, tensions boiled over between shoppers as at least six men were involved in an altercation caught on camera.

NSW Police have since confirmed a 39-year-old man has been charged with assault following the incident.

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