For older folks and people with compromised immune systems, going to get groceries in this outbreak of COVID-19 is more than a chore. It's a gamble.
All those fomites and surfaces and packed aisles can present a real health risk, so some stores are adopting so-called preferential queuing policies – allowing those who are more at-risk to shop in small numbers before opening up doors to the masses.
Here's a rundown of which stores are allowing this in Central Texas.
Randalls is encouraging people who are younger and healthy not to shop between 7 and 9 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so people who are older or immunocompromised can feel safer shopping.
The Austin-based grocer says it's allowing people 60 and over to shop an hour before a location officially opens up. There are four Whole Foods locations in the Austin area.
H-E-B and Central Market
H-E-B says it's partnered with the delivery app Favor to provide grocery delivery to customers over 60. The San Antonio-based grocer says orderswill be filled on the same day and fees will be waived for the first 30 days. Orders will be left on customers' doorsteps to maintain social distancing. A representative from H-E-B told CNN the company wouldn't enact a policy dedicating hours of operation for more vulnerable shoppers, citing recommendations from health officials.
Central Market has not announced a delivery policy or dedicated shopping hours for at-risk customers.
Fiesta has modified its hours from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Shoppers who are 65 and older will be able to come in starting at 7 a.m.
Every Wednesday, Target stores will give at-risk shoppers priority during a location's first hour of operation.
Walmart says from March 24 to April 28, it will allow customers over 60 to shop every Tuesday an hour before any location's opening.
Trader Joe's doesn't currently have a policy.
Dollar General will open an hour early to accommodate older and other at-risk shoppers.