Countdown has today launched a new service which means vulnerable Kiwis in coronavirus lockdown can get their food delivered to them.
Supermarkets are an essential service so will remain open during the Government-enforced four-week lockdown period, however Countdown’s General Manager of Health and Safety Kiri Hannifin said for some people, online delivery is the only way they will be able to access food and groceries.
The new Priority Assistance service is available for people over 70 years old or with chronic illnesses, including respiratory conditions, heart conditions, high blood pressure, kidney problems and diabetes, as well as people who are undergoing treatment for cancer and blood conditions that make them more at risk to Covid-19.
"This is an incredibly challenging time for all of us as Kiwis, but for some people, there is significantly more risk," Ms Hannifin said.
"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.
"We know we can’t reach every single New Zealander and we also know there are other customers who may not be able to leave their homes to shop. We will try as much as we can to consider these customers on a case by case basis."
But Ms Hannifin warned there is expected to be a high demand for the new Priority Assistance delivery so times and availability cannot be guaranteed.
"We want to let people know there is still likely to be a delay for groceries because demand is 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," she said.
To help open up more delivery windows, the company has converted its Grey Lynn Central supermarket in Auckland to an online-only hub, and is closing its Albert Street Metro store in Auckland’s CBD later today to redeploy team members to online shopping services.
Countdown is also working towards converting another five supermarkets to online shopping hubs to meet demand over the lockdown period.
"We ask our regular customers for their patience," Ms Hannifin said. "If you are able to, please shop in our stores so we can help prioritise those Kiwis who need this online service the most."
Anyone unwell is asked to stay home, and everyone else is asked to follow the Government’s recommendations to wash your hands beforehand and afterwards, as well as keeping physical distance from others while out.
To apply for Priority Assistance delivery, eligible customers need to complete the form here: https://www.countdown.co.nz/community-environment/covid-19. Applications cannot be made over the phone.