Shoppers Drug Mart will set aside an hour each day at most of its stores for seniors and people living with disabilities to pick up the items they need amid a COVID-19 outbreak that has led to long lines and widespread reports of panic buying at some retailers.

In a message posted to Twitter late Monday night, the company indicated that it would dedicate the first hour of shopping at all of its stores to “customers who need assistance or consideration, including seniors and people living with disabilities.”

It also said that it would provide seniors with a 20 per cent discount on regular priced items during that window each day.

In a statement to, Shoppers said that each store will execute the dedicated hour in its own way.

“The stores may execute it differently at the local level (some are opening earlier a few days a week, some are dedicating the first hour of regular shopping time) so we’re asking customers to contact their local store for more information,” the company said.

The company said that stores are cleaned and sanitized overnight, “providing peace of mind for those who are most vulnerable as they shop in a less crowded environment.”

It’s not clear whether other customers will be denied service during the special hours.

The decision comes as Ontarians continue to descend on grocery stores and other retailers, despite repeated assurances from officials that there are no supply chain issues and thus no need to hoard items.

Speaking with reporters on Monday morning, Premier Doug Ford pled with residents to stop stockpiling essential items, such as toilet paper, dried pasta and rice, in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“I have personally spoken to the vast majority of retailers in Ontario and they have assured me that our supply chain is able to handle the additional pressure,” he said. “There is no need, and I emphasize this, to rush out to stores and to panic buy and hoard essential items that we need.”

The decision from Shopper’s Drug Mart comes one day after Toronto grocery chain Pusateri’s announced that it would open its stores one hour early at 7 a.m. “to provide access for the elderly and those at a higher risk of infection to pick-up their groceries and food essentials in a quieter shopping environment.”