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Countdown said today people who qualify for service are those the Government has deemed most susceptible to Covid-19; those aged 70 or over and people with chronic illnesses.
Countdown’s general manager health & safety, Kiri Hannifin, said the supermarket has also decided to extend the new service to customers who have disabilities that make it difficult for them to do their shopping.
The move comes after a 70-year-old Auckland man yesterday voiced his frustration at having delays and critical items missed off his online shopping list last week.
He was concerned for not only himself but also others who didn’t have the strength or own a vehicle to get into town.
Foodstuffs has also today announced that it will prioritise uniformed emergency services and medical personnel who are busy protecting and helping those infected by coronavirus.
Any emergency service or medical professional wearing their uniform or carrying DHB, medical centre or proper identification will be given priority to enter any of their stores, which include New World, Pak’nSave, Four Square and Raeward Fresh stores around the country.
Hannifin said for some people, online delivery is the only way they will be able to access essential food and groceries.
“This is an incredibly challenging time for all of us as Kiwis, but for some people there is significantly more risk.
“Our online shopping services have seen unprecedented demand and to help ensure we can provide the essential service we need to, we are prioritising those customers whom the Government has identified as most vulnerable at this time.”
She said the company realised it might not be able to reach every New Zealander but would “try as much as we can to consider these customers on a case-by-case basis”.
Countdown was expecting high demand for its Priority Assistance delivery times, and availability could not be guaranteed.
To help open up more delivery windows, the company had converted its Grey Lynn Central supermarket in Auckland to an online-only hub, and had yesterday closed its Albert St Metro store in Auckland’s CBD to redeploy team members to online shopping services.
“Countdown is working towards converting another five supermarkets, where alternative stores are located nearby for customers, to online shopping hubs to meet demand over the lockdown period.”
Countdown’s teams would do everything they could to scale up online and home deliveries to the elderly, people with disabilities or those in mandatory self-isolation.
“We are continuing to work hard to increase the number of online delivery windows we have available, and prioritising these for vulnerable New Zealanders.”
However, Hannifin asked regular customers for patience.
“If you are able to, please shop in our stores so we can help prioritise those Kiwis who need this online service the most.”
Creating the new service would mean a continued delay for groceries due to the demand for an online service was so high at the moment.
“But our teams are doing everything we can to increase our delivery windows and help give those customers who need it most some peace of mind and support.”
The supermarket had also increased its physical distancing measures to protect those visiting their stores.
That included limiting the number of customers in store at a time, closing some checkouts, maintain at least a trolley length distance between shoppers, markings in store, additional and regular cleaning and perplex screens at checkouts.
Hannifin urged customers who felt unwell to stay at home.
“The measures we’ve introduced have been well received by our team and customers alike, and we’re grateful for the community support on this incredibly important public health effort.”