What You Need To Know About How San Antonio Businesses Are Adjusting To Coronavirus | Texas Public Radio

What You Need To Know About How San Antonio Businesses Are Adjusting To Coronavirus

Mar 19, 2020

Grocery stores, drug stores, phone companies and food delivery companies continue to make adjustments to business practices as San Antonians embrace social distancing or withdraw into their homes to protect themselves.

Here are the latest details on those changes to operations and other policies:

H-E-B

HEB is telling shoppers there is no need to stockpile if local governments announce a shelter in place order because of the coronavirus.

HEB says there is plenty of inventory, and product limits per customer are effective.

The grocery chain reports they have received offers of volunteer help, but they say the best way for customers to help them is to bag their own groceries, throw away trash in carts and return carts to the front of the store.

They also suggest shopping for neighbors in need.

To stem the swift emptying of shelves, the company reduced its hours from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The reduced hours give stockers more time to fill shelves. H-E-B has also shut down all of its in-store restaurants so employees can focus on assisting customers flocking to stores.

Also, H-E-B, in partnership with Favor Delivery, has launched a simple, low-cost solution that gives seniors access to their own personal shopper by phone, allowing them to get essential food and supplies delivered to them at home. Seniors across Texas, age 60 and older, can place orders with Favor using a curated list of products available from H-E-B.

Walmart

Walmart stores and Neighborhood Markets will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. so employees can focus on assisting customers. Stores with lesser hours will continue to follow their normal schedule.

Also, the store is hiring 15,000 new associates through the end of May for stores, clubs, distribution, and fulfillment centers to keep up with customer demand placed on the retailer by the coronavirus.

More than 100,000 are being hired nationwide. Visit Walmartcareers.com to apply.

It also announced plans to pay $365 million in bonuses to associates for working through the health crisis and emergency leave to associates who may be impacted by the illness.

Target

They will close at 9 every night for deep cleaning and restocking. The first hour of shopping is reserved for the elderly and those with underlying health conditions. Most Targets are open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Walgreens / CVS

Walgreens is waiving delivery fees for all eligible medications and any purchase made at Walgreens.com to assist those who are trying to avoid social contact.

Walgreens is also working on a plan to test the virus at its locations, which is still to be announced. But it stressed testing will take place in secure areas of parking lots and not inside. Walgreens officials say individuals being tested will not have to leave their vehicles.

CVS is also waiving drug delivery fees and will also offer secure virus testing areas outside stores. Locations are still to be announced.

Both chains are said to be working with the White House and the CDC on organizing the testing. Both chains also said existing drive thrus allow customers to avoid contact with others inside.

Whole Foods

Stores will allow shoppers 60 and older to shop one hour before regular business hours. Most Whole Foods are open at 8 a.m.

Dollar General

Dollar General is devoting the first hour of store operations to senior citizens shoppers, who are among people at-risk to COVID-19. They will receive priority so they may better avoid crowds and access a greater variety and amount of products.

Also, several Dollar General stores close one hour earlier to better enable employees to restock shelves.

Verizon

More people are working from home during the coronavirus outbreak and using more data to get their jobs done.

Verizon is adding an additional 15GB to all consumer and small business plans at no extra charge starting Wednesday. The 15GB of additional 4G LTE hotspot data applies to their unlimited customers -- to power laptops, tablets and other connected devices.

It also means 15 additional gigabytes of data for those on shared data plans.

Verizon will not terminate service, and it will waive late fees. They are also offering affordable new internet options for low income households.

T-Mobile

T-Mobile has introduced T-Mobile Connect and claims it is its lowest price smartphone plan yet.

It has also added lower-cost options for Metro by T-Mobile to help ensure everyone has a more affordable option to stay connected.

Sprint

Customers on an unlimited data plan with Boost Mobile have received an additional 20 gigs of mobile hotspot on their plans at no additional cost through April 30th.

Customers on a tiered plan with Boost Mobile have received an additional 20 gigs of data on their plan at no cost through April 30th.

AT&T

AT&T is suspending broadband usage caps for home internet customers. AT&T reports its Wi-Fi calling soared 78% Monday versus a Monday before the virus outbreak.

Restaurants

The city has created a special website for customers still craving their favorite dishes. Check it out here.

Mi Tierra sold much of its food because its dining hall had to close to the public.
Credit Nathan Cone | Texas Public Radio

Restaurant owners may also add their establishments to the list.

Businesses impacted by the coronavirus outbreak may find assistance from Culinaria Emergency Relief Fund, San Antonio Tip Jar, Bartender Emergency Assistance Program and Dining Bonds Initiative.

UberEats / DoorDash / Grubhub

Uber Eats is waiving for delivery fees for restaurants.

Uber is also offering no contact deliveries to homes by leaving orders on doorsteps as restaurants seal meals with tamper-evident packaging.

It also plans to donate 300,000 free meals to first responders and health care workers in the U.S. and Canada.

Food delivery service company Door Dash will also offer a no contact delivery option for customers, and its delivery personnel are using hand sanitizer and gloves while on the job.

Grubhub is temporarily suspending collection of up to $100 million in commission payments from impacted independent restaurants whose on-site dining is suffering as diners stay home.

Malls

North Star Mall will operate between noon and 7 p.m. every day except for Sunday, when the hours are 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. Mall officials also say they are increasing the intensity and frequency of cleaning high traffic areas, including interiors and in parking garages.

Ingram Park Mall and San Marcos Premium outlets are both closed through March 29th.

Store hours at The Rim could vary, so call head to individual outlets. Some bars and restaurants will still offer take out food.

The Shops at La Cantera have adjusted their hours because of the coronavirus from noon to 7 p.m., Monday through Sunday.

Outlets at the Forum At Olympia Parkway have adjusted their hours. Some stores have closed and other times vary. Call ahead to individual stores.

Dry cleaners

Slater & White continues to offer 24 hour drop off service for dry cleaning. Rose Cleaners and Comet Cleaners are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Comet also offers free home and office delivery and pickup. Five Star Cleaners is also open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays.

VIA Transit

VIA Transit officials announced a systemwide fare relief period for all VIA fixed-route bus service, VIA transtrips and VIA Link on-demand services.

Fares will be suspended beginning until 1 a.m. on April 1.

In a statement, officials said they will then evaluate the situation and provide an update for moving ahead.

“We realize that public transit is a necessity for many in our community every day and perhaps especially during a crisis, including those whose work is essential during emergencies, or who may rely on transit as their only means of travel to workplaces, meal distribution sites, critical service centers, or other necessary trips,” the statement said.

Assistance for businesses

Small businesses in Texas are eligible to apply for economic injury disaster loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration.

The loans offer up to $2 million in assistance per small business, at an interest rate of 3.75 percent. Businesses are eligible if they do not have credit available elsewhere.

The loans can be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable, and other bills that cannot be paid because of the disaster's impact. Long term repayments can be made for a maximum of 30 years.

Norma Martinez contributed to this report.
Brian Kirkpatrick can be reached at Brian@TPR.org and on Twitter at @TPRBrian.