Seniors and those with compromised immune systems can shop for one hour at Meridian Meats without being surrounded by other people. (Contributed)

Meridian Meats in Maple Ridge opens its doors to those who feel most at risk for COVID-19

For one hour three days a week, those who feel most at risk can shop without throngs of people

Seniors and those with compromised immune systems will be able to do in-store shopping at one local grocery store, minus the throngs of people seen elsewhere.

Meridian Meats will be open solely for those two groups during their first hour of business from Tuesday to Thursday, as the COVID-19 crisis continues.

There were 28 people who took advantage of the shopping time on Tuesday, the first day the time was open to them. Those who couldn’t get in right away waited patiently in their cars.

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Josh Penner, owner of the grocery chain, can’t believe the positive response he has received since he put out the word.

“It was made abundantly clear to us that this is important to a lot of people,” he said.

“There’s a lot of people that are very concerned about going out of their homes to go shopping because they have either a suppressed immune system or they’re elderly and they know they are at highest risk,” noted Penner, adding that it really speaks volumes to the stress people are feeling.

Penner said it was his wife who made the suggestion.

“She said we have to do something to help these people that are in this situation,” said Penner, who himself has grandparents that he is worried about in their 90’s.

A lot of seniors are not comfortable using technology, so ordering online might not be something they prefer to do and when it comes to fresh foods, said Penner, people want to choose them.

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Shelves at the Maple Ridge store have remained at around 85 per cent stocked a majority of the time and Penner doesn’t anticipate that supply is going to be an issue, although, he said, they are monitoring the situation closely.

His staff are also making sure they are looking after their own hygiene and health. If they are not feeling well, they don’t come into work.

Anyone who either develops a confirmed case of COVID-19 or if they have to quarantine for any reason as a result of COVID-19, Penner will be covering their wages during their time off.

“We don’t want it to come down to a financial choice because you are putting the public and the individual at risk,” he said.

Penner said his staff won’t be policing individuals at the door. He doesn’t want anyone feeling that they have to show proof of their health circumstances or their age.

But, he is hoping that the rest of the community will help support these individuals who feel more at risk of getting the virus and give them that space during that hour.

Meridian Meats will be open for seniors and those with suppressed immune systems from 8 to 9 a.m. Tuesday to Thursday at 11980 227 St. in Maple Ridge, at 7221 Park Street in Mission, 1449 Marine Drive in North Vancouver, and 1202A 56 Street in Tsawwassen. The store will be open 9 to 10 a.m. those same days at unit 108 – 2020 Oxford Connector in Port Coquitlam, unit 190 – 20330 88 Avenue in Langley, and unit 935 – 15355 24 Avenue in White Rock.

Save On Foods will be offering one hour of shopping for seniors, people with disabilities and those most vulnerable, from 7 to 8 a.m. starting Thursday, March 19, at all locations across the province, including Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.

And starting March 19, Save On Foods will be limiting their hours of operation from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at all their stores as well.

“Limiting operating hours will give the teams at Save-On-Foods additional time to clean and sanitize, restock the shelves and better serve their customers, and also gives the front-line grocery store workers a much-needed chance to recharge during these unprecedented times,” read a statement from the store’s media relations.

The company has increased their fleet of delivery vans to keep up with demand for online shopping and customers who are able to shop in-store are being encouraged to do so in order to leave the delivery option open for seniors, people with disabilities and those with COVID-19.

Save On Foods is also “amplifying” their food safety, sanitation and cleanliness.

In addition, they are reminding shoppers that they are not experiencing a widespread shortage of food, “but working around the clock to address supply chain challenges to company is facing in getting goods to stores.”

And they will be enforcing limits on high-demand items.

Employees who are ill or potentially been exposed will be self isolating and they will be working with those employees on a case-by-case basis to minimize any interruption in pay.

In a Tweet those at Shoppers Drug Mart said they will be dedicating the first opening hour of shopping at their stores to, “customers who need assistance or consideration, including seniors and people living with disabilities”. This means they will be open from 8 to 9 a.m. for those customers at stores in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.

Thrifty Foods will have shopping for seniors and those with immune compromised situations from 7 to 8 a.m. every Wednesday and Friday.


 

cflanagan@mapleridgenews.com

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