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Some stores are now offering periodic "seniors only" shopping

walmart in great falls march 2020.jpg
Posted at 6:32 PM, Mar 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-18 20:38:37-04

GREAT FALLS — Several major grocery retailers have announced changes to better serve elderly and immunocompromised patients due to growing concerns about the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Walmart said on Wednesday that it is further restricting its hours while adding a one-hour-a-week "senior shopping event."

Starting on March 24 through the end of April, Walmart locations will open for one hour (7 a.m. for most locations) for seniors only. Walmart said it plans to open its pharmacy and vision center for this hour.

Starting Thursday, Walmart stores will close at 8:30 p.m. and open no earlier than 7 a.m. until further notice. "This will further help associates restock the shelves for customers while continuing to clean and sanitize the store," Walmart said in a statement. "While the store hours change for customers, our associates will continue to have access to their regular scheduled shifts and full hours."

Walmart is also implementing shopping limits on certain items including paper products, milk, eggs, cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer, water, diapers, wipes, formula and baby food.

Albertsons is changing their hours and reserving a two-hour morning block on Tuesdays and Thursdays for seniors, pregnant women, and immunocompromised shoppers. The store announced on its Facebook page that it's reserving the 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. time so those most vulnerable shoppers can get supplies they need during the run on stores because of the coronavirus spread.

"During those times, we ask that you avoid shopping so that the stores can be available for senior citizens and other at-risk members of our community, such as pregnant women or those with compromised immune systems," store officials wrote on Facebook.

The Idaho-based grocery chains joins Target and other retailers are also reserving time for certain shoppers to avoid shortages.

Smith's grocery store said on Tuesday that it will begin offering periodic "seniors only" shopping in response to growing concerns about the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Art Williams, store manager at the Great Falls' Smith's, says that starting on March 18, the store will be open on Mondays , Wednesdays, and Fridays from 7am to 8am for seniors aged 60 and older. Williams said that they will have store employees "on site to assist as we can."

Smith’s will also be waiving its pick up fee at the point of transaction for online orders that are received curbside for shoppers that are 60-years and older through at least April 18, 2020. The policy applies to all Smith's stores, including the ones in Bozeman, Columbia Falls, and Kalispell.

Target announced it that will briefly open for seniors only. Target also said that it is reducing hours as demand for supplies are causing products to be out of stock amid a shopping frenzy amid the spread of coronavirus.

Starting on Wednesday, Target will open all of its locations for the first hour each Wednesday for "vulnerable guests." Target said those who are elderly and with underlying health concerns are invited to shop during the first hour of store open on Wednesday. The retailer said it is encouraging other guests to plan their shopping trips around this timeframe.

Target will also close daily at 9 p.m. until further notice.


There are now 10 confirmed COVID-19 patients in Montana. Here is the publicly-released information about them:

  • Gallatin County (3): man in his 40s; recovering at home; acquired through international travel; 2 men in their 20s
  • Missoula County (3): man in his 50s, woman in her 30s; man in his 20s
  • Yellowstone County (2): woman in her 50s; recovering at home; acquired through international travel; woman in her 20s
  • Butte-Silver Bow County: man in his 50s; recovering at home; acquired domestically in affected areas out of state
  • Broadwater County: man in his 50s; recovering at home; acquired domestically in affected areas out of state
  • NOTE: there is an 11th Montanan diagnosed with COVID-19; she is from Lake County, is a part-time Montana resident currently in Maryland with no documented exposures or close contacts in Montana, and was not tested in Montana. She was tested and diagnosed in Maryland, where she currently is residing.

There are currently no confirmed cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Great Falls or Cascade County. KRTV is aware of concerns in the community about who should be tested and who is able to get tested, and are working to get answers from public health officials.