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Woolworths, IGA Introduce Shopping Hour For Elderly To Combat Coronavirus Panic Buying

Woolworths and some IGA stores have introduced dedicated time to help the elderly and people with disabilities cope with unprecedented demand brought on by coronavirus panic shopping.

From Tuesday until at least Friday, Woolworths will be opening exclusively for the elderly and those with a disability to shop from 7am to 8am.

The move has been sparked by reports of many elderly and vulnerable Australians missing out on vital items they need over panic buying.

The supermarket chain was forced to suspend all deliveries across Victoria and click and collect services across the country due to increased demand.

Woolworths also warned shoppers on Monday that "if you place a delivery order you will have a high level of out of stocks, especially if they are pantry or cleaning items."

Woolworths Supermarkets Managing Director Claire Peters said the temporary measures would allow the elderly and those with a disability to overcome the crowds and collect essential products.

"While we’ll continue to do our very best to restock our stores during this period of unprecedented demand, we know many of our elderly customers have been missing out on essential items when they shop," Woolworths Supermarkets Managing Director Claire Peters said.

"This temporary measure will give them, and those with a disability, the opportunity to shop before ​our stores officially open - helping them obtain the ​essential ​items they need most in a less crowded environment."

Woolworths stores will require shoppers coming early to produce relevant government concession identification such as a seniors card.

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Woolworths has also partnered with Meals on Wheels in NSW to help deliver toilet paper to the elderly through the charity's network of volunteers.

It comes after an IGA store in Altona, Melbourne, announced on Sunday it would open one hour earlier to give seniors card and disability card holder exclusive access.

The Project's Lisa Wilkinson called on supermarkets to make sure vulnerable Australians were considered rather than relying on a first-come, first-served basis.

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"Supermarket bosses, can I suggest you leave that first hour of trading each day for the elderly or those with disabilities -- or those that can prove they are shopping for them," Wilkinson requested on Sunday.

Supermarket giants like Coles and Woolworths have enforced strict quantity limits for its customers to deal with stockpiling.

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Under the new measures, Coles and Woolworths have limited pasta, flour, tissues, and hand sanitiser to two items per shop.

Whereas Woolworths has restricted toilet paper, paper towels and serviettes to one pack per purchase.

10 daily has contacted Coles for comment.

Contact Eden at egillespie@networkten.com.au