(NEWS10) – BJ’s Wholesale Club, a warehouse-style retail chain selling bulk groceries and other goods, is a club store, meaning shoppers typically need a membership in order to shop. On Thursday, the company announced an exception for healthcare workers and first responders working during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Appreciation Hour set to begin Sunday, April 19, and will run every Sunday from 8 to 9 a.m. at all store locations. First responders will be asked to show a badge at entry. Other customers will not be let in the store until 9 a.m. or after, depending on location.

The store is also offering a free four-month membership to their Inner Circle program, which will expand the hours those workers can shop to regular business hours.

The chain is also offering dedicated shopping hours for club members age 60 or older, Monday through Saturday from 8 to 9 a.m.

BJ’s has been placing instructional signage in their stores to promote social distancing, as well as changing their own procedures to stay safe. The chain is also enforcing capacity limits, enforcing a rule of no more than 20 percent of a location’s maximum capacity inside at a time.

All hourly employees at BJ’s locations are currently earning an additional $2 per hour as hazard pay during the coronavirus pandemic.

Local BJ’s stores include locations in Wilton and Albany.

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