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Several grocery stores have set up special shopping hours for senior citizens and other at-risk customers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The changes help provide access to meet their grocery and other needs with distance to the general population. In addition to those over 60 years old, the special hours apply to pregnant women and those with compromised immune systems.

While enforcement may be difficult, operators are asking the general public to respect the guidelines with consideration toward others in the community.

The special hours are being observed by the major grocery chains the operate in the area.

Super 1 Foods was the latest to adopt the approach, which it announced Wednesday. The Ninth Avenue store will reserve Tuesday and Thursday mornings, 7-9, as periods for those shoppers. Pharmacies will open at 8 a.m. those days. The change began Thursday and is expected to run until shopping is deemed safer for everyone.

The same days and times have been reserved, too, at Albertsons on Wilbur Avenue and Safeway stores on Rose Street, Plaza Way and Milton-Freewater. That schedule will be the minimum offered by the company for vulnerable shoppers. It may be subject to change as store hours are being updated to address COVID-19 coronavirus concerns.

Walmart has said its special shopping hours are expected to run through at least April 28. Stores will host an hourlong senior shopping event every Tuesday in the 6 a.m. hour before the store opens to the public. The pharmacy and vision center will also open during that period.

Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at or 509-526-8321.

Vicki covers business and economic development, including tourism, the Port of Walla Walla and the Strictly Business column, as well as features. She has been reporting for the Union-Bulletin since late 2001.

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