Grocery stores add new hours for vulnerable shoppers
Editors note: This story has been corrected to reflect that Walmart will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. on Tuesdays from March 24 through April 28.
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Several grocery stores in Steamboat Springs plan to provide a safer experience for shoppers who are among the most vulnerable populations for contracting COVID-19 by setting aside certain hours for people to shop and avoid crowds. According to the Centers for Disease Control, those at a higher risk of getting the coronavirus include older adults and people with serious underlying medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes and lung disease.
“We know there’s a lot of anxiety out there. We know that everyone wants to keep their neighbors safe,” said Kris Staaf, a regional spokesperson for Safeway. “We had heard about volunteers in the community shopping for seniors and going out of their way to help seniors. We just kind of saw this organically in the community and thought we could certainly step up and open our stores a little bit early to allow our seniors or maybe some high-risk individuals or pregnant individuals that might want to have a shopping experience that’s just a little less hectic take that anxiety off the table.”
So now, Safeway stores in Colorado will reserve from 7 to 8 a.m. every Tuesday and Thursday for vulnerable shoppers who must leave home to obtain their groceries. Safeway asks that customers help reserve this shopping time for those most at risk in our communities.
City Market and Walmart also announced special shopping hours for the most at-risk populations as well.
Walmart will open to vulnerable shoppers from 6 to 7 a.m. Tuesday starting March 24 through April 28.
City Market spokesperson Jessica Trowbridge said City Market in Steamboat Springs will dedicate the first hour of shopping, from 7 to 8 a.m., Monday, Wednesday and Friday for vulnerable shoppers.
“We have also been inspired to see local communities working together to shop on behalf of seniors and other at-risk customers,” City Market stated in a news release. “We are asking our customers to be patient, to be kind to one another and our associates and to shop responsibly and purchase what you need, knowing that we will continue to replenish stores daily with the supplies and products our customers need most.”
According to a news release from Routt County Emergency Operations, discussions were held Tuesday, March 17, with representatives from stores in Steamboat Springs, Hayden, Oak Creek, Clark and Yampa. They reported no changes in the frequency or contents of their deliveries from their regular trucks.
“We are receiving deliveries on a regular basis, have the same number of trucks coming in and no cancellations,” Walmart manager Tyler Larson said during the meeting
Representatives from the Clark Store, Hayden Mercantile and Select Super all expressed the same assurances that their stores were receiving timely replenishments.
Some items leave the shelves quickly, like toilet paper and cleaning supplies.
“The biggest driver of the out-of-stocks on shelves is that people are over-purchasing,” said David “Mo” DeMorat, Routt County emergency operations director. “It would help our entire community if people would follow the recommendation to purchase just what you need for five to seven days, less if you can shop on a more frequent basis.”
Some stores also have reduced hours to facilitate stocking and cleaning, Shoppers, who shop early or late in the day, are advised to check each store’s updated hours before heading to the store.
To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.
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Twenty months after the South Routt School District announced it would close because of a burgeoning coronavirus, COVID-19 is more prevalent in South Routt than ever before.