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Pandemic Precautions: A Guide to Grocery Store Changes

Grocery Store Coronavirus Pandemic

As the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) pandemic continues to grow, so does the response by area grocery stores that as essential businesses must remain open. In this guide you’ll find the latest information about store hours, product limits, new safety protocols and more for Aldi, The Fresh Market, Giant, Lidl, Redner’s, Shoprite, Target, Valley Farm Market, Wegmans, Weis and Whole Foods.

Est. Read Time: 12 mins

As the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) pandemic continues to grow, so does the response by area grocery stores that as essential businesses must remain open continue to evolve.

Typically stores that are open are asking customers to maintain social distancing by staying at least six feet away from other customers as they shop or wait in line. In some cases floor tape is being used at checkout lanes to indicate the amount of distance customers should maintain between each other.

Most grocery chains are currently hiring additional staff and have announced pay rate increases (typically $2 an hour) in recognition of the challenges employees are facing.

Here is a rundown of many other important COVID-19 related changes that have announced by stores that have a presence in our area. Please keep in mind that additional measures will likely be announced in the future, as this is a fluid situation and businesses like supermarkets are continuously re-evaluating their response to the pandemic.

For more information, visit each company’s website and follow them on social media.

For information about local stores like Frey’s Better Foods and Saylors & Co., click here.


  • Special hours for seniors and immunocompromised individuals: Yes. Tuesdays and Thursdays Aldi opens at 8:30 a.m., with the first hour reserved for “vulnerable shoppers.” The company said that classification includes senior citizens, expectant mothers and those with underlying health concerns.
  • Current hours: Open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. Some stores may have limited hours to accommodate restocking and cleaning.
  • Protective barriers at registers: Yes, barriers are being installed.
  • Limits on certain products: Yes. Earlier this month the company said that “to support as many customers as possible, (customers) may see quantity limits placed on select items.”
  • Other changes: ALDI is posting visual cues in its stores, including signage and floor decals, and asking our customers and employees to observe social distancing. ALDI said it is “donating $1 million to community organizations to support those in need.”
  • Employment: Aldi said it has recently hired nearly 7,500 employees and is continuing to hire more each day. Anyone interested in a temporary position in a store or warehouse can apply using this link. Aldi has a distribution center in Center Valley, Lehigh County, for which it is hiring short-term staff.


  • Special hours for seniors and immunocompromised individuals: Yes. The first shopping hour (8 to 9 a.m.) is reserved for seniors and other individuals most at risk for COVID-19 as identified by the CDC. Other guests who do not fall into a higher risk category are asked to respect this reserved hour.
  • Current hours: 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily
  • Protective barriers at registers: Unknown.
  • Limits on certain products: In some areas limits may be placed on purchase quantities for high-demand items such as milk, paper products and disinfectants. According to The Fresh Market’s e-commerce site, “due to increased demand, delays and out of stock items are expected” and customers should monitor their text messages/emails if shopping for groceries online.
  • Other changes: All in-store food and beverage sampling, including free coffee samples, has
    been stopped temporarily. Online shopping and delivery as well as curbside pickup is available in select locations, at and through the Fresh Market mobile app. (Note: The Center Valley store does not offer delivery or curbside pickup powered by Instacart.) Physical distancing visual guidance and signs have been posted in stores. Where mandated by local health authorities, the company said it is limiting the number of guests allowed in a store at one time. Any changes to individual store hours will be communicated by the company’s Facebook page, via email and with in-store signage.
  • Employment: Yes. The Fresh Market is actively hiring additional team members. Visit to view openings and apply.
Grocery Store Coronavirus Pandemic

The Giant store at 1880 Leithsville Road, Hellertown, is one of nearly 20 locations the company operates in the Lehigh Valley area. All local grocery chains have been impacted by the coronavirus outbreak. With a span of just a few weeks, most have adjusted their hours, updated sale procedures and made other changes in response to the disruptions it has caused.





  • Special hours for seniors and immunocompromised individuals: No. On the Lidl website the company said “we worry that inviting higher risk individuals to congregate at specified times would be inconsistent with the latest CDC guidance, and may make the situation worse. … We have thoroughly evaluated the proposal to set aside hours for higher risk groups and have decided to focus on other ways to support these customers.”
  • Current hours: All stores are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily until further notice, to give employees additional time to clean and restock shelves.
  • Protective barriers at registers: Yes. New barriers are being installed in all checkout lanes.
  • Limits on certain products: In limited cases. On the Lidl website the company said it is “limiting high-quantity purchases on a case-by-case basis, determined at the store level.” Availability of items is updated every two hours on and on the myLidl app.
  • Other changes: New signage is being installed at all stores reinforcing the importance of social distancing. Lidl said on its website that signs will also highlight contactless pay, where possible, and temporary restrictions to its return policy on food items. Lidl’s return policy is temporarily suspended, with all sales final (with the exception of non-food items from special offers), it says, “to ensure the health and safety of our associates.”
  • Employment: Yes. Lidl has announced that it will be hiring up to 1,000 temporary employees across all its stores and warehouses. For more information on available positions, visit


  • Special hours for seniors and immunocompromised individuals: Yes. Redner’s has asked customers to reserve the first hour-and-a-half of daily operation (6 to 7:30 a.m.) be reserved exclusively for the elderly (60+), immune-compromised and anyone considered to high health risk and pregnant.
  • Current hours: All stores are open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily so employees have ample time to clean and restock shelves.
  • Protective barriers at registers: Unknown.
  • Limits on certain products: According to, “due to the COVID-19 virus and unexpected sales volume, sales prices and items cannot be guaranteed and will be subject to availability.”
  • Other changes: The operation of store salad bars, hot bars and other self-serve areas is suspended. Shoppers are asked not to bring reusable bags to the store because, the company said on Facebook, they “can be carriers for the virus and could cause further spread.” Cashiers are using single-use plastic bags until further notice. Most stores offer the Shipt home shopping service which allows customers to order groceries online and have them delivered to their home.
  • Employment: Yes. The company is hiring immediately for warehouse selectors, stock clerks and cashiers. Apply in-store or online. Call 610-926-3700 for warehouse employment inquiries.

Crowded checkout lines are seen at the Shoprite store on Freemansburg Avenue in Bethlehem Township, Northampton County, Pa., on March 12, 2020, as panic-buying triggered by the pandemic began in earnest. Due to COVID-19 social distancing mandates, supermarket shoppers are now told to maintain at least six feet between one another. (FILE PHOTO)


  • Special hours for seniors and immunocompromised individuals: According to, “some stores may be reserving special shopping hours, while others are establishing separate checkout stations to accommodate the elderly and high-risk individuals. We suggest you visit your local store’s social media page for details about store hours.” The company also recommends that customers refrain from shopping in groups or as families, and instead appoint one person from the group or family to shop.
  • Current hours: Vary by store. “Some stores may be operating on modified schedules based on product deliveries and the need to restock shelves and to allow for additional cleaning,” according to information published on Any information regarding modified store hours is posted to the website and on local social media pages. The Shoprite on Freemansburg Avenue in Bethlehem Township is open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.
  • Protective barriers at registers: According to a March 26 New York Post story, at least some ShopRite stores are installing sneezeguards at registers and allowing workers to wear gloves and protective masks. Since stores are individually owned it’s not clear if the changes will be company-wide.
  • Limits on certain products: Yes, although product limits are subject to change at the store manager’s discretion. Click here to view a list of products that are subject to purchase limits. Customers can sign up to receive order updates and out of stock product alerts by texting SRFH to 20669.
  • Other changes: Due to the coronavirus health emergency Shoprite has temporarily suspended its refund, return and raincheck policies. Also, online shopping departments have suspended the use of reusable bags. Online orders will be bagged in plastic or paper bags only and bag fees may still apply to your order. Customers who bring reusable bags must bag their own groceries at checkout.
  • Employment: Yes. Visit to apply for immediate openings.


  • Special hours for seniors and immunocompromised individuals: Yes. Target has expanded dedicated shopping time for its “most vulnerable guests, making the first hour our stores are open on Tuesdays and Wednesdays available for those over 65 years old, pregnant women and those defined by the CDC as vulnerable or at-risk.”
  • Current hours: 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.
  • Protective barriers at registers: Yes. Target said it is “rolling out Plexiglas partitions to checklanes at the front of our stores, as well as at electronics, service desks, CVS Pharmacy and Target Optical.”
  • Limits on certain products: Yes. Target has put limits on products like hand sanitizer, toilet paper, disinfectant wipes, soup, pasta, milk, eggs and bottled water. The company said it continues to make adjustments to limits as needed and “respectfully ask all guests to consider their immediate needs and purchase accordingly so more families can find the products they need.”
  • Other changes: Target says it is promoting social distancing by posting signage at the front of every store, implementing floor signage, dedicating team members to ensure guests wait in line at an appropriate distance until they’re called to the register and using overhead audio messaging in its stores. All Target stores are not accepting returns and exchanges through April 16. For customers who want to make a return or exchange during that timeframe Target is extending its return policy by three weeks after April 16. Until further notice, Target stores are not handling guest-supplied reusable bags. Team members are bagging items in a Target-supplied paper or plastic bag, and the stores are waiving any local bag fees. If a guest brings in a reusable bag, they can choose to bag their items themselves.
  • Employment: The company said on its website that it is making an “investment of more than $300 million, including higher hourly wages for our front-line team members through at least May 2, which amounts to $240-$480 per team member.” The company further said it is “first offering additional hours to existing team members who have interest and availability. Then, we’re maintaining our current approach to hiring and filling jobs across the network as needed. Job-seekers can visit to learn more about open roles available in their area. Shipt also is adding shoppers in many areas of the country. Visit for more information and to apply.”


  • Special hours for seniors and immunocompromised individuals: No. Seniors are encouraged to shop during the first hour and last hours the store is open, which is when it is the least crowded.
  • Current hours: Monday-Saturday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sunday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Protective barriers at registers: Unknown.
  • Limits on certain products: Unknown
  • Other changes: Extra cleaning is being done, according to a post on the store’s Facebook page.
  • Employment: Visit the store’s website for a job application and/or call for more information.


  • Special hours for seniors and immunocompromised individuals: Yes. Through April 28, Walmart stores are hosting an hour-long senior shopping event every Tuesday for customers aged 60 and older. This starts at 6 a.m., one hour before stores open. Pharmacies and Vision Centers are also open during this time.
  • Current hours: All stores are now open from 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. daily, to give associates more time to clean stores and restock shelves.
  • Protective barriers at registers: Yes. Walmart has started installing plexiglass barriers (sneeze guards) at pharmacy lanes in both Walmart and Sam’s Club stores. The company said last week that it “will install these guards at the regular Walmart registers over the next 2 to 3 weeks.”
  • Limits on certain products: Yes. There are limits in certain categories including paper products, milk, eggs, cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer, water, diapers, wipes, formula and baby food.
  • Other changes: The store is introducing contactless payment at registers, which will be available when customers use Walmart Pay on the Walmart app. Also coming is no contact pickup and delivery. “For pickup customers, they simply open their trunk, and associates load their groceries in–no need to sign for the order,” Walmart said in a news release. “And for delivery, we’ll bypass the signature here too, asking delivery drivers to simply leave the order on customers’ doorsteps.”
  • Employment: The company has announced that it will be growing its supply chain by hiring 150,000 associates, including full-time, part-time and temporary positions in distribution centers and fulfillment centers.


  • Special hours for seniors and immunocompromised individuals: No. In information published on, company officials said they don’t subscribe to the belief that special hours are needed. “Our stores are continually being cleaned and sanitized–we feel they are clean all the time, not solely when they open,” the company said. “We do not believe putting an entire population of highly susceptible people together in one location, at one time is a good idea. In addition, products arrive at each of our stores at different times throughout the day. Because of this, we cannot guarantee the availability of the key items these customers would be looking for during a specific set of hours.” Read more here.
  • Current hours: Most stores are now open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
  • Protective barriers at registers: Yes. On March 26 Wegmans announced that “Plexiglass shields are being installed at our pharmacies and front-end registers” over the next few weeks. Stores have also added hand sanitizer stations and implemented cashier guidelines for register cleaning and sanitation.
  • Limits on certain products: Yes, on products in certain key categories. See stores for details.
  • Other changes: Self-serve areas in Coffee, Prepared Foods, Bakery and Bulk Foods are temporarily closed along with Market Cafe seating areas and all in-store Pubs.
  • Employment: Wegmans continues to hire for positions throughout all of its stores.


  • Special hours for seniors and immunocompromised individuals: No.
  • Current hours: Stores are open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily so staff have additional time to clean and restock.
  • Protective barriers at registers: Unknown.
  • Limits on certain products: Yes. Limits are in place for products such as bleach, hand sanitizer, eggs, bread, disinfectant wipes and canned vegetables. Click here to view the list of product-limited items.
  • Other changes: Salad, hot food and soup bars are temporarily closed as a precaution. All loose bakery products, i.e. individual rolls, bagels and donuts, are now sold packaged. Weis said in a statement on the company’s website that “due to overwhelming demand as a result of COVID-19, we have temporarily shut down our Weis 2 Go online order with curbside pickup and home delivery.” According to a Facebook post, as a preventive measure Weis no longer permits the use of reusable bags in its stores (with the exception of its New York stores), and no longer accepts used plastic bags for recycling.
  • Employment: The company is hiring for immediate short-term and part-time positions. Visit to apply.


  • Special hours for seniors and immunocompromised individuals: Yes. Customers who are 60-plus are invited to shop beginning one hour before stores open to the general public.
  • Current hours: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily (guests 60+ can start shopping at 7 a.m.)
  • Protective barriers at registers: Yes. According to a March 27 news story, the company is in the process of installing sneezeguards at all of its locations.
  • Limits on certain products: Yes, on items deemed “high-demand.”
  • Other changes: Online ordering is currently unavailable due to increased demand. Whole Foods is partnering with Amazon in expanding capacity to service more Prime Members with free, two-hour grocery delivery and door drop service in more than 2,000 communities. All hot bars, salad bars and self-service areas in stores have been closed, along with cafe seating areas. The company’s refund policy is temporarily suspended, so all sales are final unless there was a quality problem with an item at the time of purchase.
  • Employment: Yes. The company is hiring more than 5,000 new employees nationwide. View openings and apply online at


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About the author

Josh Popichak

Josh Popichak is the owner, publisher and editor of Saucon Source. A Lehigh Valley native, he's covered local news since 2005 and previously worked for Berks-Mont News and AOL/Patch. Contact him at

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