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"No one left behind." Woolworths launches dedicated shopping hour for vulnerable shoppers after Lisa Wilkinson plea.

To ensure vulnerable shoppers are not left behind, Woolworths supermarkets has announced a dedicated hour from 7am-8am for elderly shoppers and shoppers with disabilities from tomorrow until at least Friday.

It comes after a weekend where panic and anxiety about COVID-19 well and truly set in, meaning Australian supermarkets have become increasingly chaotic.

Supermarket shelves are being emptied faster than staff can keep up with: The aisle that contains toilet paper, soap and hand sanitiser has become a wasteland, left with maybe a few paper towel rolls and body wash.

There’s been full blown brawls, as the stress leads to verbal abuse being slung and fists being thrown.

Lisa Wilkinson’s idea for supermarkets amid COVID-19 panic. Post continues below video.

Video via Network Ten

And sadly, many of Australia’s most vulnerable are being left fearful and without crucial supplies.

Woolworth’s announcement comes after The Sunday Project co-host Lisa Wilkinson called for calm and pressed supermarket bosses to make urgent changes.

“I think it’s fair to say that many of us are feeling a little overwhelmed by just how quickly coronavirus is impacting our society.

“Images of people physically attacking each other over rolls of toilet paper would have been simply unimaginable just a few weeks ago. But for anyone who has been to the supermarket in the last couple of days, we know that right now it’s a case of survival of the fittest and sadly the fiercest,” she said.

Wilkinson said older people in particular would be “very scared right now, and we need to put plans in place to ensure they are not left behind”.

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“Supermarket bosses, can I suggest you think about leaving that first hour of trading each day for the elderly and those with disabilities, or those who can prove they are shopping for them,” she said.

“No huge crowds, everything restocked and freshly cleaned. That is a no-brainer.”

Image: Getty.

She also called on the rest of us to think about donating to others in less fortunate positions, such as someone they know who may have been forgotten about among the panic and local refuges, if we find ourselves with more products than necessary after our visits to the supermarket.

"The true test of a society and who we are as a people is how we respond in a crisis," she said.

"Just weeks ago we saw so many acts of kindness during the bushfires. We know what we are capable of.

"Now is the time to prove there is no limit to our generosity. Now is the time to prove no matter how hard things get, none of us, especially not the vulnerable, will be left behind."

Following her statement, Woolworths announced it was introducing temporary measures to help support the shopping needs of the elderly and people with a disability.

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From tomorrow (Tuesday March 17) until at least Friday, Woolworths supermarkets will be opening exclusively for the elderly and those with a disability to shop from 7am to 8am, where permitted.

Woolworths supermarkets will open to ​all customers from 8am. Access to the store prior to this time will require a relevant Government issued concession card, Woolworths said in a statement.

Woolworths will review opening arrangements after Friday.

"While we’ll continue to do our very best to restock our stores during this period of unprecedented demand, we know many of our elderly customers have been missing out on essential items when they shop," Woolworths supermarkets managing director Claire Peters said in a statement.

"This temporary measure will give them, and those with a disability, the opportunity to shop before ​our stores officially open - helping them obtain the ​essential ​items they need most in a less crowded environment.

"We continue to encourage all Australians to be mindful of those in our communities who might need extra help at this time. Now - more than ever - we need to be kind to each other, especially to those most vulnerable."

Feature image: Network 10.

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