Priority Assistance service

Countdown launches new Priority Assistance initiative to increase grocery home deliveries for vulnerable New Zealanders

Friday, 27 March: Countdown has launched a new service to prioritise the delivery of groceries to the homes of vulnerable customers, and is also working to increase capacity for online delivery shoppers.

Eligible customers can apply for Priority Assistance based on the government’s guidelines around those who are most at risk or vulnerable to Covid-19: 

People over 70  years of age

People with chronic illnesses including respiratory conditions, heart conditions, high blood pressure, kidney problems and diabetes. This also includes people undergoing treatment for cancer and blood conditions that make them more vulnerable to Covid-19.  

Countdown has also extended Priority Assistance to customers who have disabilities that make it difficult to shop in stores.

Once registered, customers will have access to available dedicated Priority Assistance delivery times.

Countdown’s General Manager Health & Safety, Kiri Hannifin, says supermarkets are an essential service as the country responds to Covid-19, and for some people, online delivery is the only way they will be able to access essential food and groceries.

“This is an incredibly challenging time for all of us as Kiwis, but for some people, there is significantly more risk,” says Kiri Hannifin. 

“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.

“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,” says Kiri Hannifin.

Increasing online delivery windows

Countdown is expecting high demand for its Priority Assistance delivery times, and availability cannot be guaranteed.  To help open up more delivery windows, the company has also 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 working towards converting another five supermarkets (where alternative stores are located nearby for customers) to online shopping hubs to meet demand over the lockdown period.

“Our teams have been doing everything possible to scale up online and home deliveries to the elderly, people with disabilities or those in mandatory self-isolation.  We are continuing to work hard to increase the number of online delivery windows we have available, and prioritising these for vulnerable New Zealanders,” says Kiri Hannifin.

“We ask our regular customers for their patience as we do this, and if you are able to, please shop in our stores so we can help prioritise those Kiwis who need this online service the most.”

Physical distancing in stores

Countdown has rolled out further measures in stores to support the health and wellbeing of team and customers during the lockdown. These include:

Limiting the number of customers in a store at any one time. 

Closing some checkouts including in self-service to provide additional space between customers in those areas.

Encouraging customers to maintain at least a trolley length of physical distance between each other at all times, with clear markings at checkout.

Markings in-store to support physical distancing and signage reminding customers and team to wash their hands.

Additional and regular cleaning and hygiene processes, including hand sanitiser at the entrance of all stores for customers, and hand sanitiser available for team and delivery drivers. 

Plexiglass screens at registers to help keep team and customers safe.

Kiri Hannifin says, “Our stores are open every day, and we are following the Ministry of Health’s guidance to a tee around steps we can take to keep our team and customers safe.

“If you’re unwell, please stay at home and if you’re in our stores, please keep in mind the government’s recommendations to wash your hands beforehand and afterwards, and to keep your physical distance from others.  If it’s possible, it’s best to leave your kids at home.

“The measures we’ve introduced have been well received by our team and customers alike, and we're grateful for the community support on this incredibly important public health effort,” says Kiri Hannifin.

About Countdown Priority Assistance

To apply for Priority Assistance delivery, eligible customers need to complete the form here: 

www.countdown.co.nz/community-environment/covid-19.  Applications cannot be made over the phone.

Eligibility for our Priority Assistance service is based on the government’s guidelines around those who are most at risk:

People over 70 years of age.

People with chronic illnesses including respiratory conditions, heart conditions, high blood pressure, kidney problems and diabetes. This also includes people undergoing treatment for cancer and blood conditions that make them more vulnerable to COVID-19.

People who are in self-isolation after returning from travel or coming into contact with someone confirmed to have COVID-19.

We also know that a number of our customers have disabilities that make it difficult to shop in our stores. These customers will also be eligible for our Priority Assistance Service.

We will try as much as we can to consider other customers on a case by case basis


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