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Northeast Ohio Grocers Maintain Normal Hours During Outbreak

Shakira Collier browses produce at Dave's Market in the Shaker Square neighborhood of Cleveland. [Justin Glanville / ideastream]
A shopper browses produce at Dave's Market in Cleveland.

Some grocery stores around the country are beginning to change or reduce the times they’re open due to the coronavirus. But as of Monday, no Northeast Ohio-based grocers have modified their business hours.

Among locally-owned grocers and grocery chains, Heinen’s, Dave’s Markets, Simon's Supermarket and Zagara’s Marketplace all reported they are maintaining normal business hours.

"At this time, we have no plans to modify our hours," Jackie Shultz, a Heinen's spokesperson, said via email.

Heinen’s, based in Warrensville Heights, announced on its Facebook page last weekend that it was closing all of its self-service food bars — including salad bars, soup bars and self-serve bakery cases — "until further notice." The store said it would continue to pre-package some of the affected items so customers could still buy them.

Ali Gundl of Simon's Supermarket, with three stores on Cleveland's East Side and one in Euclid, also said stores are keeping normal hours. He said the store might consider changes to its operating hours if state or local government advised it.

Pittsburgh-based Giant Eagle, which has 21 locations in Cuyahoga County, has reduced opening hours at some of its stores. Locations that were previously open 24 hours, or from 6 a.m. to midnight, will now be open only from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Giant Eagle said the reduced hours would allow more time for store cleaning and restocking of store shelves.

Large national grocers such as Wegman's and Albertsons have also begun to reduce their hours.

In some parts of the country, stores have implemented "elderly-only" shopping hours, often early in the morning when stores are at their cleanest. Elderly people are at heightened risk of developing severe symptoms if they are infected by coronavirus.

Supermarket closures or reduced hours could particularly affect residents in neighborhoods known as "food deserts" — areas where people live more than half a mile away from a supermarket and lack access to healthy foods such as fresh fruit and vegetables. About 36 percent of residents in Cuyahoga County live in a food desert, according to 2017 data from the Cuyahoga County Board of Health.

Those who rely on public transportation also may be vulnerable, since their shopping options are limited to stores reachable via train or bus. Nearly one-quarter of households in the City of Cleveland in 2016 did not have access to a car, either by choice or because they couldn't afford one.

Justin Glanville is the deputy editor of engaged journalism at Ideastream Public Media.