Workmen install a Foodland IGA sign at their downtown store on in August 2016. Foodland and other local grocers are reserving hours for people especially vulnerable to COVID-19. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Workmen install a Foodland IGA sign at their downtown store on in August 2016. Foodland and other local grocers are reserving hours for people especially vulnerable to COVID-19. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Supermarkets reserve hours for seniors, vulnerable people

Stores are asking customers to not shop at certain hours

Some Juneau supermarkets are setting aside specific hours for seniors and other people vulnerable to the spread of COVID-19.

Foodland IGA is asking customers to reserve 6-8 a.m. daily for older shoppers, said store manager Rick Wilson. People older than 60 or with underlying conditions are at increased risk of becoming seriously ill because of the coronavirus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization. Serious underlying conditions include heart disease diabetes and lung disease, according to the CDC.

“We’re asking them to respect the space of the seniors,” Wilson said. “We’re just asking people to be sensitive.”

The store won’t be closed to other shoppers, according to Wilson, who said he understands some people shop on their way to work. But that time of day was generally slower he said, which is why they chose to reserve those hours for vulnerable people.

“It’s a slower time of day, we’ve done our stocking at the shelves and we sanitized the store,” Wilson said.

Safeway too was reserving certain hours for the same reasons, according to Tairsa Wormson, public affairs manager for Carrs Safeway.

[Food banks adapt to the coronavirus]

Wormson said Safeway stores were reserving 7-9 a.m. on Tuesday and Thursday for now, but those hours could be expanded.

“We are asking for customers to honor the reserved hours,” Wormson said in a release. “We thank the community in advance for their compassion and understanding toward their neighbors.”

Super Bear Supermarket IGA, does not have any reserved hours at the moment, but may in the future according to store assistant manager J.P. Oudekerk.

Kroger, which owns Fred Meyer, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Wormson also said Safeway was looking to hire more staff during a time of increased demand.

“We know that a lot of people that work in the hospitality industry are struggling,” Wormsom said. “We want to make sure we have enough staff to meet the needs of our customers.”

Customers were also being asked to social distance by staying roughly six feet apart while at the store, even in check out lines, Wilson said.

He added that people should avoid buying to stockpile supplies because that was putting a strain on suppliers.

”If people just want to shop for their normal shopping needs it’ll be better in the long run,” Wilson said. “It makes it hard on the supply chain, but we’ll be getting product every week.”

Know and Go

What: Senior and other vulnerable population shopping hours.

Where: Foodland IGA, 615 Willoughby Ave., and Safeway, 3033 Vintage Blvd.

When: 6-8 a.m daily at Foodland and 7-9 a.m. on Tuesday and Thursday for Safeway.

Information on the coronavirus is available from websites for the City and Borough of Juneau, the State of Alaska at coronavirus.alaska.gov and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People with flu-like symptoms are encouraged to contact their health care provider.

Contact reporter Peter Segall at 523-2228 or psegall@juneauempire.com. Follow him on twitter at @SegallJnoEmpire.

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