While reports of empty supermarket shelves, fights in the aisles and people stockpiling supplies have been widespread, some good news has emerged from Australia where special provision is being made to accommodate elderly shoppers.

With people ready to literally fight for in-demand items such as toilet paper, elderly folk – who are most at risk of contracting the coronavirus, have been struggling to buy important essentials.

As a result, Woolworths in Australia decided to dedicate an hour of shopping between 7am – 8am for pensioners as well as the disabled; access is granted to those shoppers who have a relevant government-issued concession card.

“The move has been prompted by the unprecedented demand in supermarkets over the past week, which has seen many elderly and vulnerable people in the community missing out on vital items they may need when they shop,” Woolworths announced on Monday.

However, in places like Sydney and Melbourne, it was reported that the issue of shortage of stock remains.

“It’s day one of our dedicated shopping hour and we know it wasn’t perfect across all of our stores,” Woolworths Supermarkets Managing Director Claire Peters said in a statement.

Some still believe that online orders could be the way to go for the elderly.

“The best way, I think must be delivery at home because you look at a 93-year-old coming shopping, it’s better to do delivery,” 71-year-old Irie Voico told AFP.

But there are those who are grateful for the new policy.

“This morning was well managed, full marks to Woolworths. Everyone was well mannered in there,” 75-year-old Max Hill from Sydney was quoted saying.

Due to a spike in online orders, Woolworths has however been forced to suspend it’s delivery service in Victoria state.

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“Our delivery service remains available in most parts of the country. It’s been temporarily paused in parts of VIC. We continue to service a wide range of metropolitan areas in Melbourne from our West Footscray CFC. We’ll turn deliveries back on from other VIC stores ASAP,” read a statement on Twitter.

Meanwhile, UK supermarket chains such as Iceland, Lidl and Tesco are also implementing priority shopping measures to assist the elderly.

Corner store hands out free ‘coronavirus packs’

In another feel-good story to emerge,  a small grocery store in Edinburgh, Scotland, has decided to take matters into their own hands by handing out free essentials packages to the elderly.

They spent £5000 to create packs containing toilet rolls, antibacterial hand-wash and paracetamol.

“We want to help everyone out and we hope we can set a good example in this world,” said one of the store owners. “Everyone can play their part in the community and around the UK and the whole world.

“I went to Asda with my grandmother and the shelves were empty. I just saw the look on my grandmother’s face – very terrified, and I just thought it’s time I need to do something.

“Our customers have given us remarkable feedback – such kind words, they came in and gave us flowers and there was actually a lady who came in and [said] ‘I want to make breakfast for you’.”