- Coles has unveiled a raft of new measures to keep its stores stocked amid the coronavirus outbreak.
- The company is employing 5,000 additional casual workers to help restock shelves and serve customers.
- Coles is also temporarily suspending home deliveries for all customers, with the exception of those who are vulnerable or isolated.
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Coles has rolled out a number of initiatives to make sure it has plenty of stock and gets products to the elderly amid the coronavirus outbreak.
From Wednesday 18 March, the supermarket will launch a special "Community Hour" so the elderly and disadvantaged can get access to essential grocery items. Coles will temporarily open from 7am to 8pm on weekdays, with the first hour dedicated to those who have a government-issued pension card, Commonwealth Seniors Health Card, Companion Card or Healthcare Card.
For places with trading restrictions, like Western Australia and parts of Queensland, the "Community Hour" will be held from 8am to 9am.
Coles supermarkets will also close at 8pm to give workers time to not only clean the stores but replenish its shelves for the following day.
Coles CEO Steven Cain said in a statement the "Community Hour" was introduced for those who need some extra help during this time.
"We urge customers to shop as they normally would to ensure that everyone in the community has access to their share of grocery items," he said.
"We will continue to look at a range of options to support our customers including working with our charity partners like Foodbank to deliver staple items to Australians in need, and further restrictions on products in limited supply to prevent over-purchasing."
Coles advised that the elderly or vulnerable who can't get to Coles can go to the Foodbank website to find a local charity or service nearby.
Coles is employing more than 5,000 staff
Coles added that it is recruiting more than 5,000 casual workers across Australia so it can serve more customers and replenish stocks faster.
These workers will have their inductions fast-tracked to get them out on the floor as soon as possible.
"Coles is taking all possible steps to improve the level of stock on our shelves for the community," Cain said.
"Our team members, suppliers and transport partners have been working as hard as possible delivering more products to stores every day and replenishing shelves of popular products such as toilet paper, long-life pantry staples and healthcare items as quickly as possible."
The grocery giant is also planning to hire more people to drive its online delivery vans.
However Coles is temporarily suspending home deliveries – except for customers who are vulnerable or isolated
To ensure those who are vulnerable and isolated get their products, Coles will temporarily suspend home delivery for all other customers.
"We sincerely apologise for the inconvenience that this will cause and a further announcement
about this will be made in the coming days," Coles said in a statement.
The grocery chain is also halting its Click & Collect orders and UberEats delivery service.
Coles' decision comes after Woolworths introduced an early opening time for the elderly and people with disabilities at its stores on Monday.
Woolworths also partnered Meals on Wheels to get toilet paper delivered to the elderly.
- A list of the products Coles has placed purchase limits on due to the coronavirus outbreak, including flour and mince
- Hand sanitiser is low in stock at Coles due to the coronavirus outbreak, and the company says it expects shortages in other products too
- Woolworths is opening its stores early for the elderly and shoppers with disabilities, following calls on social media
- Woolworths has placed purchase restrictions on more items, including paper towels and serviettes