Trolley wheels

Due to the panic buying in response to the Coronavirus crisis, supermarkets like Woolworths, Coles and some IGA have announced exclusive shopping hours for the elderly and vulnerable such as people with disability. 

To date, Aldi hasn't made such an offer but is putting in place restrictions on the numbers of items able to be purchased, especially those that are in short supply at present.


Woolworths began their dedicated hour at 7 am on Tuesday 17 March and will extend this arrangement to at least Friday 20 March. In this hour, the elderly and vulnerable will be able to shop. 

All other shoppers will be able to enter after 8 am.

Limits have been put in place to restrict extreme buying of certain items. This is Woolworth's statement: "Customers will only be able to purchase a limit of two items from any single category on most packaged products." The one-pack limit stills apply to toilet paper, baby wipes, paper towels and rice.

There are some suggestions attached to this decision, with possibly an hour later in the day to accommodate those who can't get to the early time, to consider pregnant women and health care card holders eligible for these exclusive time slots, and self-funded retirees who are of pension age yet don't have a pension card. It has been confirmed that the latter group count as "Government-issued concession card" holders and are therefore eligible.

Additional thoughts and queries are whether younger family members are eligible to assist their elderly parents with their shopping, or in the same vein, whether carers can go with their client or even go alone to shop on their behalf.

Many elderly and vulnerable people have missed out on buying vital personal hygiene items such as toilet paper and tissues, and foodstuffs such as rice, flour and pasta because they have been unable to access the shops. 

For the latest information access The newest information about Woolworths efforts to address the increasing demand

Priority Assistance 

To ensure vulnerable customers in the community have access to delivery services at this time, Woolworths will be providing a Priority Assistance service with dedicated delivery windows. Eligible customers include seniors, people with a disability and those with compromised immunity or who are required to self-isolate.

Fill out the form: Woolworths Priority Assistance Request Form


Coles have introduced "Community Hour" which is from 7 am - 8 am on weekdays (Monday to Friday) to allow customers who have a government-issued  Pensioner Concession Card, Commonwealth Seniors Health Card, Companion Card and Health Care Card to complete their grocery shop. Limits still apply for many items. The following is a current list of restrictions:

One pack per person: Toilet paper

Two items per person: pasta, flour, dry rice, paper towels, paper tissues, hand sanitisers, mincemeat - includes beef, pork, lamb, chicken and turkey, eggs, chilled pasta, frozen vegetables, frozen desserts

As of Wednesday 18 March, Coles has added restrictions on milk with a limit of two milk cartons. This includes Coles Brand and branded chilled milk which is all sizes of white dairy milk, plant-based non-dairy and goats milk sold chilled. All Coles and Coles Express stores have new limits.

For the latest information access Coles COVID-19 Latest Updates

From next Monday, there will be new legislation to enable Queensland supermarkets to restock their shelves 24 hours a day to enable them to replenish stock.


IGA is also trialling exclusive hours at its Pier St location in Altona, for senior and disability cardholders starting Tuesday 17 March through until 17 April.

The hours are as follows:

Monday – Friday 6 am -7 am

Saturday 7 am – 8 am

Sunday 8 am – 9 am

Local Buy Swap Sell sites and Bulletin Boards are also advertising alternative hours of opening. For example, Ritchies IGA in Beechworth is operating priority hours 7 am – 8 am effective from Tuesday 17 March until further notice.

For the latest information access Latest Updates and Store Information 


Following on from the other major supermarkets, Aldi has placed limits on similar goods to curb the panic buying moves. Their current information is available here: Aldi COVID-19


The 'pantry' for Australia's charities is Foodbank. It provides food and grocery items to 2,400 charitable organisations running food relief programs.

More than 815 000 Australians receive assistance every month.

At present, if the elderly or vulnerable people are unable to get to a supermarket to buy essential items, they can log on to Foodbank's website and locate a local charity or service near them. In NSW and the ACT, there is a telephone number 02 9756 3099. For other states and the Northern Territory, local services can be located through the website. Please call IDEAS on 1800 029 904 if you need assistance with this website.

For further information, access the Foodbank website.

IDEAS does information so you can do life. The IDEAS Disability Info Line is open from 8 am - 8 pm (AEDT) Monday to Friday and our Info Officers are ready to assist anyone who needs it. Free Call: 1800 029 904. Text 0458 296 602 or Live Chat via our website.