Publix will start opening 7 to 8 a.m. for an hour Tuesdays and Wednesdays starting tomorrow March 24. Fresh Market on Camino Real started setting an early hour aside on March 17. Trader Joe’s on Federal Highway has a separate line and will assist older shoppers who want assistance.
Publix normally opens at 8 a.m. The one-hour early opening is for customers 65 and older, a sign on the stores explains.
Fresh Market is not specifying seniors, just complying with CDC coronavirus precautions: “We’re not checking IDs and we don’t want to police guests,” said Fresh Market corporate communications director Meghan Flynn. So far, they’re received 9,000 likes on Facebook and 1,000 comments for instituting the idea early on. No need to stockpile there, she added. “We’re getting deliveries all day.”
So, should older shoppers and people at high-risk take advantage of grocery stores’ efforts to help them social distance?
Dr. Delia Weiss would rather those shoppers take advantage of ordering ahead and driving up for pickup or using delivery. Those are better options “as opposed to wandering around touching things for an extended period of time, especially for older people,” she said.
For people who still want to grocery shop themselves during these hours, she suggests wearing gloves, repeatedly sanitizing hands, not touching your face.
“For grocery, gas and bank keypads, the equipment may be sprayed or wiped before touching. Also, for in-person credit card and identification exchanges, credit cards and writing implements may be sprayed or wiped with sanitizer,” Weiss advises
Most of the stores are doing that already. “We are practicing good hygiene and enhanced cleaning, wiping down surfaces and cars,” Flynn said. Publix cashiers at the Garden Shops were wearing gloves. Carts were given out one at a time after spraying.
By Marci Shatzman
Dr. Weiss is Shatzman’s internist