NARRAGANSETT – As COVID-19 changes life around the state, nation and world, Stop & Shop said it would adjust store hours, including an exclusive early-morning shopping time for seniors only, in response to the pandemic. Starting on Thursday, March 19, Stop & Shop will open at 6 a.m., daily, to service customers aged 60 and older.

“Now, more than ever, it’s important we come together as a community to support each other during challenging times,” said Stop & Shop President Gordon Reid in a press release Monday.  “Part of that is showing compassion and care for some of our neighbors who are most vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus. According to the Centers for Disease Control, that is members of the population who are age 60 and older.”

The virus has proved especially troubling for seniors, with higher death rates and more severe symptoms. The Stop & Shop in Narragansett’s Salt Pond Plaza, 66 Point Judith Road, will adhere to the new hours and early entrance for seniors, along with all other Stop & Shop locations.   

Beginning Thursday, those 60 and older can use a designated entrance (which will be marked) to gain access to the grocery store and shop from 6:00 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. daily. At 7:30 a.m., the store will open to the general public. Stop & Shop said it would not I.D. anyone to get inside the store during the early opening, though the company encouraged customers to “do the right thing.”

“Although we will not be requesting ID for entry, we ask that you please respect the purpose of the early opening – and do the right thing for your neighbors,” said Reid. “Store associates do reserve the right to ask customers to leave if they are not a member of this age group.”

Over the weekend, the grocery chain also announced it would be adjusting all store hours overall in an effort to provide employees time to unload deliveries, restock and rest. Going forward, all Stop & Shop locations will open at 7:30 a.m. and close at 8:00 p.m. These new hours have been implemented at the Narragansett location.

“Please note that our stores receive deliveries throughout the day, so our shelves will be replenished for shoppers at all hours,” said Reid in the release. “And, we have implemented added cleaning and sanitation efforts, which will continue throughout the day at all stores.”

Stop & Shop also announced that its home grocery delivery service, Peapod, will remain available to all customers. Reid encouraged utilizing the service to place home-delivery orders for people age 60 and older. Those receiving home deliveries can select the new “no contact” option for delivery, which will notify the customer by text or email when the delivery driver arrives, who will then leave the order on the customer’s doorstep or building entry before returning to their vehicle.     

“We hope you will join us in our efforts to care for the older members of our community at this time, and we are very grateful for your continued support,” Reid concluded.

Additionally, Belmont Market in Wakefield announced new measures on Tuesday which will be implemented until further notice. Belmont Market will be opening at 7 a.m. and closing at 6 p.m. daily, a limit of 100 customers will be allowed in the store at a time, its café is closed until further notice and the store said it will honor its ads as “best as we can.” The grocer also said that when staffing permits, it would implement a “seniors only” checkout lane, however, Belmont Market strongly encouraged seniors to utilize the store’s online services. Finally, every register will be open to keep close contact to a minimum and there will be no changes to online services.

“Inventory is constantly changing, and we are at the mercy of manufacturers and distributors,” Belmont Market said in a newsletter. “We believe you can find what you need but may need to try a new brand or two.”

“Again, what we are facing is unprecedented but please know we are committed to doing everything we can for you, our customers and employees,” the letter concluded. “Be well South County. You got this.”

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