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Alberta stores alter hours of operation for safety reasons during COVID-19 pandemic

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WATCH ABOVE: A lot of stores in Alberta are reserving their first hour of each day for seniors and vulnerable citizens in the community, helping them avoid the crowd of people looking to stock up on food and medication during the COVID-19 crisis. Taz Dhaliwal takes a look at how the early shopping hours are working. – Apr 1, 2020

London Drugs and all stores owned by Loblaws, including Shoppers Drug Mart, are among the many stores across Canada dedicating their first hour of operation each day solely to seniors and vulnerable members of the community during the COVID-19 crisis.

Chris Mabie, the store manager at a London Drugs in Lethbridge, says opening an hour early at 8 a.m. Monday to Saturday and 9 a.m. on Sundays just for seniors and people with vulnerabilities is helping with crowd control since shoppers have been loading up on essential items more than ever before.

London Drugs will be open from 9 a.m. to the rest of the public from Monday to Saturday, and 10 a.m. on Sundays.

The accommodations help people who feel nervous while shopping in crowded spaces.

READ MORE: Alberta’s COVID-19 death toll rises to 11

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“Seniors or individuals that might have a disease that might be complicated with this COVID-19 are really appreciating that we’re opening up early because there’s less people in the store and from the night before, we’ve completely sanitized the store, so it’s a very clean environment for them,” Mabie said.

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Across Canada, the retail chain is going a step further by allotting its last hour of operation to cleaning and staying open only to people who work on the front-lines of the public health crisis.

“During that time, we’re also inviting health-care workers, front-line workers, first responders or active military to come into the store and shop,” Mabie explained. “We’re finding a lot of them are doing really long shifts, and quite often they’re working during the same time most stores are open.”

For everyone else, the store is closing an hour earlier so that staff can do a deep clean at 8 p.m. as they sanitize everything.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Will students return to Alberta classrooms this school year? Call is Dr. Hinshaw’s

There’s also still the option of ordering items online for people who can’t leave their homes. The Shoppers Drug Mart at the Park Place Mall in Lethbridge says it is offering free deliveries for medication.

“The delivery driver is busier than he’s ever been,” said Loa Manning, part owner of the Park Place Mall Shoppers Drug Mart. “It’s probably slower than it normally is just cause everywhere around the city is delivering more than they normally are — but we try our best, we even have staff make deliveries.”

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Something new Shoppers is doing includes the launch of a new, free “virtual care service” for patients.

“It’s available across Canada, and if you’re unable to find a primary care provider, they will connect you with one as long as you have a smartphone, tablet or computer,” Manning said. “So, more information about that is on the Shoppers Drug Mart website.”

The service is available until April 10 and doctors will only be able to diagnose minor ailments.

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