The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, as with any other crisis, is a test of character. Sadly, a number of people are not faring well. And it clearly shows on the empty shelves in most supermarkets these days. In the midst of this massive panic buying craze, the elderly and people with disabilities are definitely at a disadvantage. So, in response, supermarket chain Woolworths has come up with a dedicated shopping hour to cater to these vulnerable groups.
Effective March 16th, only seniors and disabled people may shop at their stores from 7–8 a.m. daily. The implementation of the said policy comes after the unprecedented demand in supermarkets over the past weeks. Grocery stores have experienced an influx of customers looking to stock up their pantries in anticipation of a lockdown. And among the highly hoarded supplies include toilet paper, pasta, rice and canned goods.
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
Unfortunately, this has caused elderly customers and those with disabilities to miss out on essential items
What’s worse is that these groups are also the ones susceptible to contracting the coronavirus disease the most. According to the grocery chain’s managing director, Claire Peters, they’re aware of the repercussion of some inconsiderate shoppers’ actions. As a result, they’re implementing a shopping hour exclusively for these vulnerable groups to somehow help them get by.
“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.”
The supermarket chain has also repeatedly called on to the public to be more considerate during these trying times. In addition, they have released a product limit guideline, covering in-demand goods like toilet paper, baby wipes and rice.
“We ask you to please respect these limits and only buy what you need. If we all do this, there is more than enough to go around.”—Bradford Banducci, Woolworths Group CEO
Here’s how people reacted to the supermarket chain’s efforts in favor of seniors and disabled people
My mother, who is not on Twitter, wants me to thank you @woolworths for your kindness and community spirit. In the past week, she’s exhausted herself just thinking about having to shop, let alone getting her lippy on (always) & arriving to find bare shelves. Bravo. https://t.co/NtxWpdgvj4
— Elizabeth Rex (@xerex_au) March 16, 2020
Please have extra security to protect staff from customers that won’t follow the rules.
— IceTea ? Gilbert Blythe (@IceTea32079972) March 15, 2020
FANTASTIC! I JUST went to my local Coles (5:15am arrived) Grabbed TWO packs of toilet paper..1 for my elderly parents, and; waited til I saw an old lady and handed the other pack to her… pissed a few off but BAD LUCK
— Granger Barnett (@Granger_Barnett) March 15, 2020
Well done Woolworths.
The elderly should be respected. Instead of being pushed around by selfish scumbags running by them & buying up everything before they can get down the aisles.
— Penny (@4URThoughtsAust) March 16, 2020
Great idea for people like my parents.
— Barry Bender ??? (@barry_bender5) March 15, 2020
Thanks Woolies! I screenshot this and sent it to my Grandma who is 83. Great work!
— Alla Hayes (@AllaHayes) March 15, 2020
Other users have also expressed their concerns over the given timeslot
That’s great! But many disabled people cannot shop at 7am because they are receiving assistance at home with morning self-care. What arrangement will you make for disabled people – like my mother – who *need* delivery services?
— Dr Kat (your friendly local epidemiologist) (@epi_punk) March 15, 2020
Good idea. Rethink about the time 1) it takes me 2.5 hours to toilet, shower and dress myself. 2) other #pwd May require support workers and its more difficult to get help at that time.
— John Duthie (@johnduthie316) March 15, 2020
Thank you Woolies.
I know the early time is hard, but I also know some stores sell out items before 7.15am. If it’s later in the day, the in-demand items will be gone.
Those of us who can, let’s offer support to people we know to get to the stores as needed.
— Indigo Daya (@IndigoDaya) March 15, 2020
Maybe free home delivery might be useful.
— Trusttheplan (@shazzabedazzla) March 15, 2020
Great work. It’s a start
— Alice (@Aliceh_1936) March 15, 2020
Greedy Australians should hang their heads in shame that it’s come to this where elderly people are being pushed aside and bullied so they can’t get the groceries they need. it’s a pity these pigs can’t be named and shamed.
— Henry (@Propmach) March 16, 2020
That’s amazing! Even tho I shop for my grandma so that doesn’t help me, still good!
— Honey B $weeT ???? (@honey808sweet) March 15, 2020