Going grocery shopping during coronavirus in many ways feels like going into battle against an unseen enemy.
You have to suit up in your armor (in this case, a mask and gloves), make sure your weapon (aka hand sanitizer) is ready to go, and you need a battle plan — having a shopping list at the ready, wiping down the cart, buying what you touch, keeping your phone in your pocket, not cross-contaminating and keeping a safe distance from others.
It’s a concerning conundrum for all of us, because who knows where the virus is and if those around us are being as cautious – and it’s especially concerning for those of us who are high risk.
That’s why many local grocery chains have taken to offering special hours to the elderly, women who are pregnant and those with underlying conditions. Here’s a breakdown of those hours at Chicago-area grocery store chains.
Note: Hours are subject to change. Some of these stores also offer curbside pick-up options. Check with your local store before heading out. You can also consider a grocery delivery service or locally owned grocery stores if you’re worried about crowds.
In order to keep their stores clean, Aldi has team members stationed outside cleaning carts and is enforcing a shopper limit that equates to five customers per 1,000 square feet.
They are opening at 8:30 a.m. and are reserving the first hour for seniors, expectant mothers and those with underlying health concerns.
Those who are 60 and older or who have disabilities enjoy special shopping hours 8-9 a.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. In addition, Costco is offering priority access to health care workers and first responders during all open hours.
They are also enforcing safety protocol and encouraging social distancing in all locations.
Food 4 Less
Shoppers will find that Kroger is limiting the number of shoppers in its stores by 50 percent. Exclusive shopping is available for seniors who are 60 and older and higher-risk individuals 6-7 a.m. daily.
Fresh Thyme Farmers Market
Seniors and higher-risk individuals can shop Fresh Thyme’s dedicated hours 6-8 a.m. on each Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Seniors, expectant mothers and higher-risk individuals can shop during the first hour of each store daily. Staff members are also regularly cleaning and sanitizing stores.
Seniors are welcome to shop between 7-9 a.m. on each Tuesday and Thursday at Jewel-Osco grocery stores.
Part of Kroger, Mariano’s stores will also be limiting the number of shoppers in its stores by 50 percent. All stores are offering hours for seniors ages 60 and older and higher-risk individuals 6-8 a.m. daily.
Most Meijer stores are open 8 a.m.-10 p.m. daily to all customers with the pharmacy open 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday. Special hours are available for essential service workers 7-8 a.m. Monday-Wednesday and to seniors/those with chronic health conditions 7-8 a.m. Tuesday and Thursday.
In addition to following the CDC’s guidelines and limiting the number of shoppers in the store, Meijer has stopped accepting returns and has suspended the meat, salad and seafood counters.
Patel Brothers have reopened their stores on April 9 after a deep cleaning. Seniors can start shopping at 10 a.m. daily, two hours before the Chicago-area stores open.
Seniors can shop between 7-8 a.m. Monday through Friday.
Sam’s Club is offering shopping sessions 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday for seniors, those with disabilities and those with compromised immune systems.
Target shoppers can expect to find increased cleanliness, masked and gloved employees, monitored store access and more. Dedicated shopping hours for vulnerable citizens is the first hour of business each Tuesday and Wednesday.
Tony’s Fresh Market
Shopping for seniors is available 7-9 a.m. on Tuesday and Thursday.
In addition to reduced store hours and heightened sanitation efforts, Trader Joe’s is dedicating the first hour of business (either 8-9 a.m. or 9-10 a.m., depending on the location) to serve seniors and those with disabilities.
From March 24 to April 28, Walmart will host a senior shopping hour the first hour of business every Tuesday for those 60 and older. The pharmacy and vision center will be open at this time.
Whole Foods will be closing early during COVID-19 to ramp up cleanliness efforts. They’re also opening their stores one hour early to accommodate those who are 60 years and older.
In addition, they are partnering with Amazon to serve Prime members with free two-hour grocery delivery services.
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