MELROSE (CBS) – Some stores are making changes to help customers who are at higher risk of getting coronavirus.

Whole Foods is now dedicating the first hour of business at its stores exclusively for people who are age 60 and older. This is so those most vulnerable to COVID-19 can shop in a less crowded environment and keep up with social distancing.

Brian Maglione went to the Whole Foods in Melrose  Wednesday when it opened at 7 a.m., but he was turned away because he was too young.

“(It) seems like a smart thing to do and come back later on and hope everything I was hoping to get is still available,” he told WBZ-TV.

Bonnie Blanchard got in and appreciated the move by Whole Foods.

“I’m glad they’re doing this, and I live two minutes away, so it’s good and everyone is so good and they’re very helpful,” she said.

Everyone else was allowed in after 8 a.m.

However, the stores will close early now as well.

“In addition, Whole Foods Market stores will close up to two hours early to give our Team Members more time to restock shelves, sanitize our stores and rest in preparation for the next day,” the company said in a statement. “We will continue to fulfill Prime delivery orders in an effort to meet unprecedented demand and ensure that people who need to remain at home can still get their groceries in a timely manner.”

Whole Foods isn’t the only store making changes.

Starting Thursday, all Stop & Shop stores will open early as well from 6 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. and only customers over the age of 60 will be allowed to shop.

Dollar General is also dedicating the first hour of the day to senior shoppers.

Price Chopper will pre-open all of its stores exclusively to seniors from 6 to 7 a.m. every day, beginning on Thursday, March 19.

Target is also reserving the first hour of shopping each Wednesday for “vulnerable guests” and Walmart will do the same every Tuesday.

Market Basket will be open only to customers 60 and over on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 5:30 a.m. to 7 a.m.

Shaw’s is reserving 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays for seniors, those with compromised immune systems and pregnant women.

These companies will also close early to sanitize their stores and stock up for the next day.

Blanchard has a message for anyone upset by the changes.

“Just be calm, get what you need and calm. You don’t need 25 packs of toilet paper and water,” she told WBZ. “Stay home and be creative, clean out your closets, take up art, practice your guitar, practice your piano.”


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