These B.C. stores have special hours for those most vulnerable to coronavirus
VANCOUVER -- With strong physical distancing measure in place during the COVID-19 pandemic, some Metro Vancouver stores are offering special shopping hours for those most vulnerable to the virus.
Over 1,500 cases of the novel coronavirus have been recorded in the province and health officials have continually stressed that B.C.'s seniors and those with underlying health issues are at the highest risk of developing severe symptoms if they contract the virus.
Meanwhile for many shoppers, trips to the grocery store have only led to finding empty shelves, as some B.C. residents are stocking up on supplies.
Early on in the pandemic, Finance Minister Carole James said unnecessarily stockpiling supplies can hurt the most vulnerable.
"There isn't any need to overstock your own supplies – doing so will put at risk seniors, single parents and others who need those necessities," she said. "Shop well, plan ahead, but please don’t go overboard at other people's expenses."
Hoping to help shoppers who are at risk of developing severe symptoms, some stores in B.C. are setting aside specific hours for them.
On Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, Costco has established special operating hours for anyone who is 60 and older or who has a physical disability.
Between 8 to 9 a.m. on those days, Lower Mainland Costco locations will be open to those members only. During all business hours only two people are allowed to enter with each membership card in an effort to promote physical distancing.
All Walmart locations are setting aside a shopping hour between 7 and 8 a.m. every day for seniors aged 65 and older and anyone with "vulnerable health conditions."
Regular store hours have been reduced to 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. at all locations to allow staff to stock items and sanitize stores.
Between 8 and 9 a.m. from Monday to Friday, all London Drugs locations are only open to seniors and people with disabilities.
As well, seniors who made need help on a one-on-one basis to get essential items or medication can email SupportSeniors@LondonDrugs.com for support.
Liquor stores across the province are now permitted to be open between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m. the B.C. government announced on April 15. It's up to individual store owners to set their business hours within that time frame, however.
As well, the changes aren't necessarily to set aside seniors-only shopping hours, but the province did mention the adjustment would "provide greater opportunities for physical distancing for seniors and people who are immuno-compromised."
Superstore, No Frills, Independent Grocer and City Market
Several stores owned by Loblaws are operating dedicated shopping hours for seniors and people living with disabilities.
At Superstore locations, shopping is set aside for those more vulnerable groups between 7 and 8 a.m. For other shoppers, all locations are now open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
City Market, Independent Grocer and No Frills locations are also offering special shopping hours, but they may vary by store. Shoppers are advised to check their nearest location for details.
Save on Foods
Major grocery chain Save on Foods is setting aside one hour each day – from 7 to 8 a.m. – for senior shoppers, people with disabilities and those most vulnerable to severe symptoms of COVID-19.
As of Thursday, all stores are limiting their opening hours overall for the general public to 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
"Save-On-Foods is also encouraging those customers who can shop in-store to do so and leave the online shopping services available to those who are not able to get to the store, including seniors, people with disabilities and those who are ill or self-isolating during these unprecedented times," a social media post from the grocery chain says.
Nesters Market has over a dozen locations across B.C. and is dedicating its first opening hour to customers who wish assistance or extra consideration, including seniors and those living with disabilities.
"We welcome all customers but hope that preference will be given to those with special needs for the first hour we are open," said Dang Bregg, Nesters Market president in a statement.
"I am moved at seeing how neighbours and communities are coming together to help out and support those that need the assistance and we are proud to do our part to support the community as well, just as we have done for over 50 years."
Bregg also assured shoppers that the stores are restocking daily and won't run out of food or essential supplies. As needed, quantities may be limited to shoppers.
Granville Island Public Market
Every day from 9 to 10 a.m., Granville Island's Public Market is open to seniors only.
"At this time we are not a gathering place. Locals only please," a post on the market's Instagram page says. "No large groups at this time."
As well, anyone with flu-like symptoms or close contact with someone with COVID-19 is asked to stay away from the market. Anyone who isn't visiting to get groceries or supplies as needed is also asked to not enter.
Fresh St. Market
Fresh St. Market has five locations in the Lower Mainland and will offer a morning shopping hour for seniors and individuals who are at high risk of developing severe symptoms every Wednesday and Friday from 7 to 8 a.m.
The B.C.-based grocery store chain run by H. Y. Louie Co. says it will "provide a clean and low-stress environment" to take care of its community "in the best way possible."
On Wednesday and Friday mornings, all IGA locations will be open from 7 to 8 a.m.
Seniors and high risk individuals specifically will be welcome during that hour, the grocery store chain says.
Shoppers Drug Mart
With more than 1,250 stores nationwide, Shoppers Drug Mart locations across Canada are dedicating the first hour they're open to customers who need assistance or special consideration. That includes seniors and people living with disabilities, the chain of stores said on Twitter.
Shoppers Drug Mart will also offer its 20 per cent discount to seniors during that first hour, like it does every Thursday.
Customers should check their local store to confirm operating hours.
This is a developing list. Check back for updates.