Woolworths has moved to introduce a designated daily shopping hour for the elderly and people with a disability in a bid to ensure they are able to purchase essentials.
From Tuesday until at least Friday, Woolworths stores across Australia will open between 7am and 8am exclusively for more vulnerable members of the community. The revised hours come as ongoing panic buying from the wider community, amid the spread of coronavirus, has left supermarket shelves empty of staple items.
We’re launching a dedicated shopping hour in our stores to help support the needs of the elderly & people with disability in the community. From tomorrow until at least friday, we’ll be opening exclusively for them to shop from 7-8am, where permitted.
— Woolworths (@woolworths) March 15, 2020
Woolworths has also suspended its home delivery service due to “extraordinary” demand.
“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,” said Woolworths Managing Director Claire Peters.
“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.
“We continue to encourage all Australians to be mindful of those in our communities who might need extra help at this time. Now – more than ever – we need to be kind to each other, especially to those most vulnerable.”
This is a good start, but a lot of people with #disability are feeling stranded as Woolworths has stopped taking online orders, and Coles are also struggling to meet demand.
— AFDO (@AfdoOffice) March 15, 2020
On Sunday night, veteran TV journalist Lisa Wilkinson made a plea on The Sunday Project to large supermarkets, asking them to leave the first hour of daily trading for the elderly and those with disabilities.
We need to ensure that our elderly are not left behind – this is the time to come together as a nation and do what’s best for the most vulnerable in our society. @Lisa_Wilkinson shares her candid thoughts on current surge in panic buying, and what that means for our elderly. pic.twitter.com/uQookD7DTT
— The Project (@theprojecttv) March 15, 2020
She made the point that those with the most risk of contracting COVID-19 are “the elderly, the weak and the vulnerable” and we must keep in mind these members of the community who are currently in need of extra support.
“They will be feeling very scared right now and we need to put plans in place to make sure they’re not left behind.
“Supermarket bosses, can I suggest you leave that first hour of trading each day for the elderly or those with disabilities — or those that can prove they are shopping for them,” Wilkinson requested.
“That is a no brainer.”
Those wishing to gain access to the new supermarket hours will need a relevant concession card.