Albertsons, Safeway, Whole Foods to offer special hours just for seniors, other at-risk people

SEATTLE -- Albertsons and Safeway announced Tuesday that stores will offer special hours, in response to the coronavirus outbreak, for senior citizens and others with vulnerable immune systems.

The grocery company said it would reserve every Tuesday and Thursday from 7 to 9 a.m. for vulnerable shoppers who must leave home to go grocery shopping.

Albertsons said local store hours were in the process of being updated on its website.

"The situation around Coronavirus continues to unfold.  Across Albertsons Companies 2,200+ stores nation-wide, we know that some of our most vulnerable neighbors are senior citizens and other at-risk populations, such as pregnant women or those with compromised immune systems, who have been advised to avoid leaving home as much as possible.  

"We are sensitive to the fact that everyone is anxious to make sure they have the items they need, and we also know that everyone wants their neighbors to stay safe and healthy, too.  We will reserve every Tuesday and Thursday from 7 AM to 9 AM for those vulnerable shoppers who must leave home to obtain their groceries, unless otherwise locally mandated. We are asking that our customers help us reserve this shopping time for those most at risk in our communities. We thank our customers in advance for their compassion and understanding toward their neighbors and friends, and in helping us maintain this temporary operations guideline."

Whole Foods also said Tuesday that it would start offering special hours. Starting Wednesday, March 18, Whole Foods stores will start serving customers who are 60 and older an hour before opening to the public.

Officials: There's no need to hoard food and supplies

Coronavirus fears have led people all over the world to buy lots of hand sanitizer, toilet paper and other products, and to clear store shelves of produce, fresh meat and anything else they might need.

President Trump had a conference call with grocery store and supply chain executives over the weekend and has urged Americans not to stockpile food and other goods.

"Supply chains in the United States are strong, and it is unnecessary for the American public to hoard daily essentials," according to a statement from White House Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere.

Wire services contributed to this story.