During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has explained that the most vulnerable populations are older people, people with asthma or HIV, and those at a higher risk of severe illness. For these high-risk groups, the idea of leaving one’s home to purchase necessities, such as groceries, has become a daunting task.
The Highland Hannaford Supermarket has been offering senior hours for people 60 and over, as well as the high-risk populations as defined by the CDC, since March 24.
Hannaford independently decided to implement senior shopping hours, which are Tuesday through Thursday from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. These hours allow for high-risk and other vulnerable people to shop before other people crowd the supermarket, constituting a stronger social distancing practice.
“We have received great feedback on our dedicated shopping hours for seniors and other high-risk customers,” said Hannaford Supermarkets spokesman Eric Blom. “In this time of extraordinary circumstances, it is important to find unique opportunities to better serve our community. We have decided that this is one adjustment we can all make to support the most vulnerable in our community.”
Although IDs are not being checked at the door, Hannaford has asked its community to respect these senior shopping hours.
In addition to the early opening, Hannaford has also shifted its usual store hours to allot more time for cleaning, the stocking of shelves and “giving its associates additional time to rest,” as stated on their Facebook page. The new hours began March 21, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Thorough safety and hygienic practices have swept through Hannaford, with meticulous procedures for cleaning the store. These practices include the availability of sanitizing wipes at entryways, keeping bathrooms stocked and maintained and sanitizing PIN pads, grocery conveyor belts and other “high-touch points” regularly.
“We are guided by a simple objective of keeping our customers and associates safe,” Blom said. “The health and safety of our associates, customers and communities is our number one priority.”
Per measure of the CDC, social distancing of at least six feet and the prohibition of social gatherings has been mandated. Hannaford has put a social distancing plan in place to keep everyone safe in a time of uncertainty. There are signs within the store explaining a 6-foot distancing rule, including this distance while checking out and waiting for a prescription at the pharmacy. Hannaford has also put forth overhead announcements explaining social distancing necessities, plexiglass between cashiers and customers to limit contact and modifications to delivery services to keep vendors and associates safe.
“Our associates are following strict hygiene techniques that are most effective at combating viruses,” Blom said. “We are asking associates who are feeling unwell to stay home.”
To ensure the wellness of associates of Hannaford, all workers are granted paid sick leave of at least two weeks if they are quarantined by a local health department or the CDC, and if themselves/family members have tested positive for COVID-19.
“We ask that customers please shop alone or with as few others as absolutely necessary for their trip,” Blom said. “Make one larger trip, rather than several smaller ones and try to visit the store during off-hours.”