Coronavirus: Seniors, vulnerable groups to get own priority shopping hours at NTUC FairPrice, Cold Storage and Giant supermarkets

FairPrice said that members of the Pioneer Generation should present their Pioneer Generation card to shop during the priority shopping hour. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

SINGAPORE - Senior citizens and other vulnerable groups will get their own dedicated shopping hours at FairPrice stores, Cold Storage and Giant outlets, as the supermarkets take steps to provide safe shopping environments for these groups during the coronavirus outbreak.

On Monday morning (March 24), NTUC FairPrice said in a statement that those of the Pioneer Generation, pregnant women and people with disabilities will have their own shopping hour at its supermarkets from next Monday.

This will take place during the first hour of each FairPrice store's normal operating hours on Monday, and will be from 7am to 8am for stores that operate 24 hours.

Hours later, following queries from The Straits Times, Dairy Farm Group, which operates Cold Storage, Giant, Market Place and Jasons Deli, said it will roll out a similar measure.

Beginning this week, the first hour of opening on Tuesdays and Wednesdays will be set aside for "the elderly and other vulnerable groups", it said. For 24-hour stores under Dairy Farm Group, the dedicated shopping hour is from 8am to 9am.

Both retailers' moves follow the Ministry of Health's recommendations for safe distancing and greater protection of more vulnerable groups.

Dairy Farm Group said it was also prompted by the recent spike in demand in supermarkets, which may have caused more anxiety among the vulnerable groups over shortage of essential goods. It has designated special checkout lines for these groups of customers during normal operating hours.

Dedicated shopping hours are expected to provide more vulnerable groups with more time and space to do their shopping, while avoiding crowds that could make the 1 metre social distancing rule more difficult to adhere to.

To shop during the priority shopping hour at FairPrice stores, FairPrice said that members of the Pioneer Generation - which refers to those who were aged 16 during Singapore's year of independence and are 71 or above this year - should present their Pioneer Generation card.

They will continue to enjoy the additional discounts from the existing Pioneer Generation Discount scheme that applies when they shop on Mondays and Wednesdays. Both supermarkets also said that they have put in place social distancing measures at their checkout lines.

Floor markings 1m apart have been placed at checkout queues in all outlets.

FairPrice has also put up in-store posters and made announcements to remind shoppers to keep a safe distance.

At FairPrice outlets, which number more than 200 across the island, all food sampling has also ceased until further notice.

FairPrice added that it has also stepped up cleaning, especially for surfaces shoppers frequently touch such as railings, trolleys, baskets and checkout counters, and have provided hand sanitisers for customers to use.

Dairy Farm Group's chief executive officer of South-east Asia Food Chris Bush said what the world currently faces is "unprecedented".

"We kindly request the support of all our customers by respecting these measures, as we are all dependent on the kindness, understanding and compassion of each other to help us through these challenging times," he said.

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