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Costco Keeps Senior Shopping Hours as Coronavirus Cases Rebound

Warehouse club nixes plan to end special time slots for shoppers 60 and older

customers wearing face masks leaving a Costco Wholesale store in Pembroke Pines, Florida.

Johnny Louis / Getty Images

En español | Bulk retailer Costco Wholesale will offer special hours two days a week when only older people and others at heightened risk from coronavirus infections can shop.

After announcing plans to end the special operating hours that were added early in the pandemic, Costco instead will limit the time slots to Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 to 10 a.m. Only club members 60 and older, people with disabilities and immunocompromised shoppers will be admitted during those hours. In addition, Costco members who work in health care or as first responders may shop during those hours with proper identification.

Costco has 559 locations in 45 U.S. states and Puerto Rico

The change in the retailer's policy, effective July 26, comes as the more contagious delta variant of the coronavirus is now responsible for over 80 percent of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The average number of new infections is up nearly 70 percent, compared with the previous seven-day average, CDC data shows.

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The special shopping hours at supermarkets, instituted by many chains soon after the onset of the pandemic in the spring of 2020 and long before vaccines became available, were designed to limit coronavirus exposure for older customers as well as for those with underlying health conditions who are more susceptible to serious cases of COVID-19. But with the wider availability of vaccines this year, many retailers reduced or eliminated special shopping hours and eased face mask requirements.

Supermarkets with senior shopping hours

Although many grocery stores across the U.S. ended special hours for older shoppers, some chains continue to offer the option for those over a certain age and for others who are more at risk from COVID-19.

BJ’s Wholesale: Most stores offer a designated hour for those 60 and older Monday to Saturday, from 8 to 9 a.m. First responders have a dedicated shopping hour on Sundays, from 8 to 9 a.m. Use the Club Locator to see if your location participates.

Costco Wholesale: Club members who are 60 or older, disabled or immunocompromised can shop on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 9 to 10 a.m. Guests are not permitted. Health care workers and first responders can also shop during this time slot.

Dollar General: The first hour of operations is dedicated to senior customers. Although an exact age was not specified, the company said the period is for shoppers most vulnerable to COVID-19. Store hours vary.

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Food City: The first hour of operation, from 7 to 8 a.m., is designated for customers 65 and older and for those with underlying health conditions. Its pharmacies open at 7 a.m. on Mondays to allow vulnerable customers to pick up their prescriptions with limited exposure to others.

The Fresh Market: Seniors and other at-risk individuals may shop between 8 and 9 a.m., Monday through Friday.

Harris Teeter: Mondays and Thursdays, from 6 to 8 a.m., are reserved for shoppers age 60 and older. ExpressLane Online Shopping pickup times are reserved for older adults from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursdays. The pickup fee is waived, and seniors can opt for delivery for $5. The 5 percent senior club discount applies on Thursdays.

Lowe’s Food: Tuesdays and Wednesdays, from 7 to 8 a.m., are dedicated to older adults and those who are immunocompromised.

Price Chopper: Most stores will open to seniors and the immunocompromised from 6 to 7 a.m. each day.

Schnucks: Most stores have reserved 6 to 7 a.m. for seniors and other at-risk shoppers.

Aaron Kassraie writes about issues important to military veterans and their families for AARP. He also serves as a general assignment reporter. Kassraie previously covered U.S. foreign policy as a correspondent for the Kuwait News Agency's Washington bureau and worked in news gathering for USA Today and Al Jazeera English.

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