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Special shopping times are being set aside at Publix locations for elderly customers only because of the outbreak of the coronavirus known as COVID-19, the grocer announced on Thursday.

Publix officials said the 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. hour on Tuesdays and Wednesdays will only be for customers who are 65 and older. The pharmacy at Publix locations will also open at 7 a.m. on those days.

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The elderly, as well as people with chronic health conditions, are considered especially susceptible to catching COVID-19.

The change at Publix starts March 24.

“Publix has been a leader in customer service for nearly 90 years, in good times and in bad," Publix Director of Media Relations Maria Brous said. "We understand there are customers for whom shopping may be extra difficult right now, so we are pleased to offer them this dedicated time in our stores to shop at their own pace.

"This is just one way we are continuing to offer the Publix experience people have come to expect. It’s especially important during these stressful times that our customers are able to rely on us and trust us to meet their unique needs."

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I'm a Crawford Long baby who grew up in Marietta and eventually wandered to the University of Southern Mississippi for college. Earned a BA in journalism (double minor in political science and history). Previously worked in Florida and Clayton County.

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