Supermarkets asked to set aside time for elderly shoppers

Empty shelves of toilet paper
Empty shelves of toilet paper as the spread of coronavirus raised fears of supply shortages and hoarding. March 13, 2020NL Times used with permission

Supermarkets in the Netherlands are being called to take measures to ensure that everyone can get their shopping done during the Covid-19 crisis. Minister Eric Wiebes of Economic Affairs asked that they reserve an hour for elderly customers every day. Actor Thomas Acda started a Twitter action through which healthcare workers in Amsterdam can place their grocery orders and pick them up after their shift.

Shops in other countries like Belgium already instituted an "elderly hour" - an hour in which only elderly people are allowed in the stores, so that they can shop without chaos around them and without fear of becoming infected with the coronavirus. This prompted the D66 and 50Plus to ask the Dutch government to arrange for something similar, NOS reports.

Minister Wiebes said that he will bring this "sympathetic idea" to the attention of supermarkets. Elderly people and people with a weakened immunity face the greatest risk if they are infected with the coronavirus.

On Wednesday, a single nurse in Amsterdam tweeted that he's been unable to find fresh bread for five days. The stores only open after he's gone to work, and the shelves are empty by the time his shift ends. "I would also like to take a snack along now that the business restaurant is closed," he tweeted.

This prompted actor Thomas Acda to to make a plan. For his local supermarket, the Jumbo on Weseterstraat in Amsterdam, he created an email address to which healthcare workers can send their shopping list. "We will pack your things as soon as they come out of the truck. You just have to pick up (and pay of course)," he wrote on Twitter. 

Supermarkets in The Netherlands had a turnover of 996.3 million euros last week, 32 percent higher than in the same period last year, NOS reports based on figures from market researcher IRI Nederland.