Coronavirus: Stores Set Hours For High-Risk People

BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Across much of the U.S., shelves of essential items are being wiped clean as soon as they are restocked as customers prepare for isolation amid COVID-19. With more strict social distancing guidelines now in place, several store chains have opted to set hours when only those most at risk from coronavirus can more safely shop.

Here are the store chains in Massachusetts that are holding dedicated hours when only people over the age of 60 or those with underlying health conditions will be allowed inside.

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Stop & Shop

Starting Thursday March 19th, between 6 - 7:30 a.m. only customers over the age of 60 will be allowed into Stop & Shop stores. While the company said it will be working on the honor system and not checking ID's to verify anyone's age, employees will be asking any younger shoppers to leave during that timeframe.

“Stop & Shop is making the decision to allow community members in this age category to shop in a less crowded environment, which better enables social distancing,” the company said. "And, we have implemented added cleaning and sanitation efforts, which will continue throughout the day at all stores."

Whole Foods

In a press release, the company said starting Wednesday March 18 in the U.S. and Canada, it would be setting aside one hour before its normal opening hours to allow customers over the age of 60 to safely shop inside. Whole Foods stores will also close two hours earlier than usual to allow staff to restock shelves and sanitize the stores.

“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,” the company said.

Starting on Thursday, March 19, all Whole Foods Market stores in the U.K. will only allow customers aged 70 and older inside for one hour before opening to the general public. Check your local store's usual opening hours by clicking here.

Dollar General

The discount store is asking the public to plan for the first hour your local Dollar General is open hour to be dedicated to senior shoppers.

“In keeping with the Company’s mission of Serving Others, Dollar General wants to provide these at-risk customers with the ability to purchase the items they need and want at the beginning of each day to avoid busier and more crowded shopping periods,” the company said. Its locations will also close an hour early to allow staff to restock and sanitize.


The first hour after stores open on Wednesdays will be dedicated to senior shoppers and those with underlying health conditions.

“A commitment to help all families is at the heart of Target’s purpose. Our goal is to be here for you and keep navigating through this uncertainty together – and we will do everything in our power to live up to that promise.” said Chairman and CEO Brian Cornell in a statement.

Target stores will also be closing an hour early to allow employees time to clean and restock shelves.

Market Basket

According to a press release, starting Thursday March 19th, Market Basket will initiate "senior shopping hours specifically geared to accommodate the needs of our customers 60 and older."

The grocery chain said "Each Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 5:30 AM to 7:00 AM the stores will be open ONLY to serve customers 60 and older. This is designed to enable these members of our community who are at greater risk with the coronavirus to shop in a less crowded environment, which enables social distancing."

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